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 ;)

21 July 2011

Are we there yet?

The best part of knowing people who have kids is that they’re usually willing to let you babysit and play with the kids while they go off and do something else for a little bit. They get some time away from the munchkins, I get to be a five year old and run around the grass for a little while. The best part of playing around with other peoples’ children is that you get to “give them back” when you’re done. All the fun stuff, none of the responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong, I wholly intend on being married with children—just not now. I guess the best part of playing with other peoples’ kids is that it really lets you know how you feel about kids. With cheese pizza on plastic plates being attacked by a three year old to my left and a five year old to my right, I look across the dining table at my girlfriend, smile, and say, “later,” and she laughs and agrees. (Oh, I forgot to mention the 5 month old in the swing.)

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of babies and marriages around me (fortunately, no babies getting married, that would be weird). Maybe that’s because I told myself I wouldn’t get married while I’m still in school, and I just graduated. Or perhaps it’s because I know a lot of people that are currently pregnant, just had a baby, or talk about it all the time. The marriage portion? Well, I’ve always wanted to get married, so of course it’s always on my mind. Maybe my turning 30 this year has a little to do with it. Maybe I just like asking questions.

Thinking back to my blog about control a few days ago, there are some things that can be prepared for and some that cannot. I can plan and save and wait for the right time to get married, have kids, go to grad school, whatever. I could always defer for better conditions, I could always look back to worse conditions. I know kids don’t come with instructions, and neither do marriages. There are hundreds of books out there: how-to manuals, surveys, questions, 29 different levels of compatibility, but I think the real things that keep the marriage together, the real meat and potatoes (or boca and tofurkey products) that keep families together, just have to be experienced. No books. No one else telling me how to do it. Just our family keeping ourselves together from the inside out.

Nothing like bringing up a bunch of questions before I go to bed. That’s nothing new in my world, though.

I’ve been thinking about making the switch to Wordpress. I may keep it here though and start a new one for WP. Something more focused, less journal-ish, something more streamlined on one topic. I don’t know. I’ll keep you…wait for it…posted.

20 July 2011

The Future of Writing, or: Writing for the Future

This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to catch a performance of The Wedding Singer (the musical) at the Carpenter Center. It's the final production of Musical Theatre West's 58th Season, and it was quite the enjoyable afternoon at the theatre.

Here's a link to The Wedding Singer's review. Please read, share, and subscribe! It's free, and it's soooo exciting! (Totally unbiased, I know.)

Yeah, if you didn't know, I also write for as the Long Beach Acting Examiner--I write in support of theatre arts in the Long Beach area. I've been doing it for just over a year, and although theatre happens year round, the reviews don't happen as often as they used to last summer simply because I also do other things. Writing for the Examiner (hashtag #LBAX) isn't my full-time job, but it sure is a great start to a hopefully long and successful writing career.

Obviously, if you're reading this, you know to some extent that I write. If this isn't my first blog entry you've read, you may have noticed that I like to write about just about anything in general. That's because I'm just starting out (essentially), and I want to just get in the groove of writing on a more constant basis. At the end of June I challenged myself to write a blog everyday starting July 1st. So far I've only missed two days, both of these coincidentally linked to days I've reinjured my shoulders. Weird, huh?

Come the end of July I'll have close to 30 different blog entries with varying topics. Starting in August, I'll be focusing on one blog per week, spending more time on it, editing, and re-editing, to produce longer, more detailed work. Most of my posts now are a page to a page and a half (anywhere from 400-900 words), but I'll be stretching the chops in the near future.

Granted, there are still a good number of days left in July, and I won't cheat you out of them. Some may consider my linking today's post to my review as a cheat, but hey, my intent to write today was fulfilled, so I'm sharing that. :)


18 July 2011

Stanislavsky is like Pam for the soul

I don’t like getting stuck. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it usually isn’t for very long. Being stuck translates as getting lazy and losing perspective. Often times I look to better the situation, progress, and evolve. When I told my ex-fiancee that I was moving back to California, she said something to the effect of, “Go ahead, run like you always do. That’s why you can’t hold a committed relationship.”

That was the one thing that stuck with me (no pun intended).

I didn’t run, I moved on. I moved up and I moved forward. I got myself a few jobs, I started college, and I gave myself objectives. I encountered obstacles, I altered tactics, I achieved objectives. One step at a time, I make it from one scene to the next (yes, I’m referring to my life in acting terms…). Many actors, myself included, have said that living the life of a character in a play is simpler than real life because the play is scripted, the end is in sight, and you know the course of the story. One of the many challenges facing actors is embodying the character without telegraphing the end.

I can't remember where, but I heard somewhere (perhaps in the DVD commentary of the film Ray) that Jamie Foxx was able to spend some time with Ray Charles in his preparation to portray the musical legend. However, as amazing as it was basking in the genius of Ray Charles Robinson, he opted to cut his time short with his visits. His explanation was that he wouldn’t be portraying the 70-plus musician, and therefore did not want his performance to be overwhelmed with the last few months of Mr. Charles’ life; he only wanted to spend enough time with him to catch him in action, notice some nuances, and just watch him be.

Although I can’t speak for every actor, I know a few that proudly joined the ranks of “drama geeks” in high school because they enjoyed the escape from their miserable teenage lives to enjoy the fantastical wonderland of the scripted. As I mentioned earlier, one of the challenges of an actor is to not telegraph the end result. As much of a structure junkie as I am, I have realized one (of the I’m sure numerous) aspects where the uncertainty of real life is much easier than the scripted definite world of theatre: it’s impossible to telegraph the end result. Reason being—THE END OF YOUR PLAY ISN’T WRITTEN.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, naysayers can say that it isn’t impossible—committing suicide can easily be telegraphed beforehand. Ah, ah, ahh, any human that I know moves forward (or doesn’t) through choices. A choice to create a new life is equal to a choice to take a life, insofar as they are both choices. Where am I going with this? Any self-respecting human being who operates in the interest of self-preservation and progress moves forward by making their own choices. Bite-sized, manageable objectives are set, and whether they are achieved or altered, further objectives are set, obstacles are encountered, tactics are utilized, and life goes on. In day to day life we don’t have the option of telegraphing the end, so our up front objectives are faced more naturally and (dare I say) organically.

Compulsive over-analyzers like myself can find themselves second-guessing, backpedaling, and essentially undermining their own decisions if they don’t stand by their choice. It’s nearly impossible to make a choice without affecting anyone. Really. Human nature integrates this knowledge with our decision making more often than not. People choose to make choices everyday, accepting or declining offers, with varying degrees of acknowledging how far the ripples will go. Some people make more decisions based on how others are affected. Some make them based on how it affects them. Decisions are obviously a case-by-case basis, with some decision causing greater ripples than others. If you need an example, choosing which combo meal from Del Taco probably won’t ripple out as far as eloping with your cousin, but they are both decisions nonetheless.

If you’re stuck, you’ve reached a rest stop of laziness. If you think you’ve settled and hit a plateau, you have. I don’t plan on getting stuck or running, but I do intend to stay in a committed relationship (i.e., get married…duh). If I settle, that means I’ve given up. If I’m stuck, that means I’ve become too lazy to make things better. These two results are products of weak objectives, a lack of tactics, and obstacles that weren’t necessarily insurmountable, just big enough for me to stop reaching.

I like where I’m heading, and I love whom I’m heading there with. I’m far from stuck and nowhere near settling. My objectives are strong and my super objective (which, if you asked me what it is, I couldn’t tell you to save my life) is even better. The tactics I’ve accumulated over the years are fantastic, and the obstacles? Ha, I enjoy when people think they’re throwing me a wrench, when I’ve deflected torpedoes. Strap me to the back of a pace car and cut me loose when the green flag goes up, I’ll make it.

Note: although this self-empowering post may seem a bit random and obtuse, but a story I recollected earlier today sparked this feeling. I’ll have to share that story another time…let’s just say I’m in a much better place now, associated with a much nicer family. J


In 2003, I took up seasonal employment with a Best Buy around the corner from where I was living in Virginia Beach. This was my first retail job, and also my first holiday season in such a setting. Picture with me, if you will, Best Buy the week before Christmas. Excellently packed with stressed out last-minute shoppers. One particular day I was ringing along, zipping through transactions as expediently as I could, stamping them with high fives and calling the next customer up. Among the hustle and bustle and chatter about the sales floor and front lines, a very specific speech pattern shot through the air and into my cochlea. I turn around and my friend Natalie, a sweet, young, blonde, white girl was on the receiving end of a customer’s attack. I calmly step across the lane to her register and notice that she is wide-eyed and frozen behind her counter, confused by the verbal pelting that she is receiving but not understanding. I politely ask the angered customer to leave, mentioning that cursing at someone is rude enough, but when you do it in a language she can’t understand, well that’s ridiculous. She immediately switches to English, asking me why I’m “defending this white bitch” and displaying her solid grasp of conversational English.

The ray-of-sunshine customer from the above story was yelling in Tagalog, a language used primarily by Filipinos (not “Philipino”, as it is commonly mistaken). My parents are Filipino, and I am a first-generation American. When asked what I am, I respond, “American,” and that’s usually followed up with, “Well, where are you from?” to which I respond, “California.” Many are frustrated by my answers. Sometimes I feel that questions regarding your ethnic background can be translated as, “What set of preconceived notions should I use on you?” or “I need to categorize/compartmentalize/marginalize you for my own safety.”

I don’t identify myself as Filipino/Asian/Pacific Islander very often. I was not taught to speak, read, nor write Tagalog as a child, but my parents spoke it to each other, so being around it enough, I could understand what’s for dinner and when I’m in trouble (hence, understanding the vulgarity my friend Natalie was being subject to). I might have been raised in the SF/Oakland Bay Area, but I call Virginia Beach home. Tony Stewart is my favorite NASCAR driver. Sugarland is my favorite band. “Boomer Sooner!” is my favorite song come college football season. I used to have a truck, and I want another one (but owning/maintaining a truck in California right now is unnecessary, way too expensive, and takes up way more room than I need). Yes, I was in the Navy, but not as a nurse. I have not worked, nor do I intend to work, for the postal service.

There have been several occasions when I have been approached, seemingly reluctantly, by someone (who is usually Filipino) who asks in a wanna-buy-a-watch tone of voice, “You Filipino?” or “Filipino?” When answering yes, their demeanor is suddenly relaxed, welcoming, and jovial, as if being Filipino was the secret password to a life of overwhelming joy and success. Most times, the individual would ask me for a cigarette, the time, or something else negligible. Why was it so important that I be Filipino then?

More occasions than not, those that ask me if I’m Filipino are Filipino themselves. This says a couple things to me: 1) “Takes one to know one” doesn’t apply to “my people.” 2) People that don’t ask don’t care. Maybe that’s why I don’t identify myself as such, because I don’t care, or rather, it isn’t that important to me. Some may say that it’s important to know where I came from so I can know where to go. However, I don’t have a “hole in my soul” from not filling it with Filipinoisms—I feel like I’ve embraced the opportunity of a first-generation American and filled it with many Americanisms I’ve encountered around the country, and I like it.

16 July 2011

The Radio, Subliminal Messages, and Feminism

When I got in my car and turned the radio on (Go Country 105, ah thank you) I heard a traffic update that described the freeways as being a pretty smooth ride amidst “Carmageddon Weekend,” and to try and stay home to leave clearer roads for those driving to and from work and emergency vehicles.

Try and stay home if you aren’t going to or from work...on a weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit, and I enjoy going out when I’m not working, but I have never used, nor do intend to use, the freeway as a place of loitering or serenity to help me think of where I should go next. I tend to use the highways as a means of getting somewhere faster that local streets could get me. I haven’t surveyed everyone that sits in traffic (nor do I think anyone actually has), but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that commuters sitting in traffic would prefer not to be in traffic and would much rather be at their destination.

Without empirical research, this is obviously just a hunch loosely balanced on observation. Just a hunch.

Later in the drive one of my current faves came up—“Mean,” by Taylor Swift. (For the definition of “fave” I use in this context, please refer to the text supplied by this class taught by Mr. Perry.). This song made me think about “According to You,” by Orianthi. Note: If you aren’t familiar with the lyrics of these songs, please click on the aforementioned song title, this information is actually important.

I don’t know the full lyrics by memory, but I know what sticks in hearing the song ad nauseam (emphasis on nauseam): “According to you/[fault, fault, fault]” repeat; “According to him/[compliment, compliment, compliment]”. I don’t consider myself a radical anything, especially a feminist (even though I WILL identify myself as a feminist), but a Women’s Psychology class I took a few years ago opened my eyes to a few things that many people don’t realize. One of the broad examples was noticing differences in how females are depicted in advertising versus males. In many ads (not just women’s mags), the body is often truncated, emphasizing something (usually not the face) for aesthetic emphasis. Don’t get me wrong, The female figure is a beautiful sight, but what are they really selling? I get it. I know why marketing and graphics departments do it, but still, it happens a lot more than a lot of people (men and women, children and adults), think.

Back to Orianthi. According to you/him, blah blah blah. I heard a few reactions when this song came out and they were mostly positive, “Good for her! She deserves this new guy! Way to tell the ex!” and yes, that’s all good, but when you really think about it…the dependency of this female character in the song (because I can’t say for certain that the artist is singing about her own life), is—under closer inspection—sad. She is basing this rant on the opinions of two people: male, neither of which is related to her, nor superior. Yeah, she has one verse of “According to me” but that’s directed at Male A (not the Alpha Male, haha). Why can’t she spend more time in “According to me”-land talking about herself? Because it doesn’t sell that much? Because it isn’t as catchy if she isn’t complaining/ranting? Because someone—in Australia, where the song started…or here in the US where it blew up…or in Japan where it became a top 10 hit—because someone thought it would be “sexier” this way? COME ON!!

And breathe…

Obviously, this is just one post, one man’s opinion on a discussion that’s been happening for years. That’s just what I thought today when I was driving through the bumper-to-bumper, 2MPH, stop-and-go traffic due to Carmageddon weekend. Oh, wait, traffic was totally normal, and I don’t plan to leisurely drive through LA just because I can, so I’ll try and stay home and off the highways tonight.

Freeways, Free writes, Highways, and High fives

Friday’s date was 7/15/11. Three odd numbers, two of them prime. One of 15’s factors is 5. Five is the square root of my favorite number—25.

Someone once told me about the logistics behind enumerating interstate freeways. Those ending in even numbers and zero (e.g., 80, 264, 10, 280) run east and west. Those ending in odd numbers—which most of them around here end in 5—(e.g., 95, 105, 1, 91, the 5…) run north and south. Obviously these N/S and E/W designations aren’t absolute, but if you think about many freeways, it’s a pretty solid system.

However, streets are a different story. Driving up Studebaker Road in Long Beach, the road ends and forces you to take a turn, but in pops back into play further north. Somewhere around Atlanta and Dunwoody, Georgia there was an area where the street nomenclature was dominated by “Peach” (in Georgia?!?! No way!!!) Peach Street, Peachtree Ave, Peach Blvd, for a visitor this could get really confusing really fast. Not to say that Atlanta is the worst for confusing streets, anyone that’s driven through San Francisco’s one-way street maze, the circumferential I-495, or anywhere near a metropolitan area, you understand completely.

This next fact may seem random, but stay with me here…

So I’m an OU fan. Boomer Sooner. The athletic launch pad for Blake Griffin and Sam Bradford. When I was an Army contractor after separating from the Navy, I worked on a couple jobs at Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. Right off I-44 (which, ironically, runs north-south right through Lawton), the city was easily accessible via four or five exits off the 44 (“the 44”? I’m so SoCal.) that run…wait for it…perpendicular to the freeway. Not only that, if you miss your turn on the local roads, there’s a good chance you can turn at the next intersection and loop around without fear of a One-Way Arrow monster.

If that town had a beach, I’d have moved there when I left Virginia.

Simplicity is something I enjoy when I go home. I can keep up in a fast-paced work environment, but when I go home at night, I want to go home—to a neighborhood. I’m not trying to say I don’t love living in Long Beach, because right now I do, it’s actually one of the reasons I applied to CSULB. I enjoy the fact that it is a (relatively) commutable distance from Los Angeles, but not in Los Angeles. I like that there’s a beach. I like that there are slower paced neighborhoods where I don’t have to drive around for 30 minutes looking for parking, and that there are city parks nearby. (Random fact #49: CSULB is the only university that I applied to. Good thing I got accepted.)

The date really sparked this blog for the day, but ironically, it comes at the dawn of Carmageddon—this (if you haven’t heard about it by now) monstrous closure of the 405 between the 10 and the 101 for two whole days. I didn’t plan for the Sepulveda Pass project to take place after 7/15/11, I just noticed it. Some people say life produces art, and others say art produces life. As long as there is life in art and art in life, then I won’t question this chicken-egg pairing. I’ll continue to enjoy the ride, because…life is a highway, and I’m gonna ride it…(you guessed it)…all night long.

(Random fact #57: “Enjoy the Ride” happens to be the title of the second album of my favorite band.)

15 July 2011

Hypey Potter and Me

When the HP6 came out in 2009, I made plans to accompany my friend Claire, so she didn't have to see it alone. I had to confess to her that I not seen any of the other movies, nor read any of the books, and she quickly let me borrow them the week before. I read the first three that weekend (which was apartment hunting weekend before I moved down to the LBC), but didn’t get fully caught up.

Even as a regular bystander (as opposed to many of the full blown dress up Potterheads that night...which were awesome) I did enjoy the movie, except for the couple minutes I had to turn away from the screen to not see the humongous arachnid that Hagrid was mourning.

I never really got into it. It’s that simple. I didn’t read the books when they came out, nor saw any of the movies as they were released. I’ve never seen any of the LOTR movies, Wicked, or Grease. I’ve never read any books by Stephanie Meyer, and I only went to New Moon as part of a birthday celebration.

So shoot me. (Or send a Dementor after me.)

Seeing all of the Facebook statuses (stati?), tweets, and check-ins for the “epic final battle where it all ends” I don’t feel like I’m missing out, because I hear about it enough from everyone else. I’m far from a Scrooge, and I’m not saying “Bah, Voldebug!” but sometimes I get turned off to things that are hyped beyond human comprehension.

Yes, I’ve listened to the soundtrack of Wicked, and yes, I did enjoy it. I’ve heard plenty of songs and seen many a clip from Travolta’s and Newton-John’s younger years, and it’s cute. Just don’t crucify me for not participating in something that so many people do. Call it juvenile, but the more you tell me I absolutely need to see something, the less I actually want to see it.

I’m not dogging anyone that joins the millions of peoples that swarm and stampede the bookstores and movie theatres, fans are fans; it’s the force-feeding, recruiting fanatics that drive me crazy.

To all of you seeing HP7 tonight, enjoy the show. I’m sorry your “childhood is ending,” but I’ll be tucking myself in early, because I’m tired, I don’t feel good, and I want to go to bed.

A few words of advice first:

Don’t trust anyone without a nose, I’m sorry his brother dies, and you know what? If I could turn into a werewolf by ripping my shirt off and running into a rainy forest, I’d charge the bed-breaking vampire and ruin his honeymoon too. Maybe we should head to the OzDust ballroom and start a dance off between the Sharks and the Jets. Hopefully Officer Krupke and Malfoy can get along long enough to let Rizzo get Hermione’s phone number. If not, that’s ok, we’ll just use the time turner and head Back to the Future.

14 July 2011

Learning through laughing

I sidetracked Sarah Silverman’s workshop set tonight at The Comedy Store-Hollywood, because I was laughing.

Seriously, or rather, really (since it wasn’t serious at all).

Alongside my girlfriend and a couple of her friends tonight, we went out to support a young comic named Garrett Gamarra. The second (of I don’t know how many performers) was Sarah Silverman—backpack and papers in hand, ready to try out some “buds” (as she called them) of jokes she’s writing. She wasn’t on the initial bill, she literally came in right the show started and was brought on stage (to the confusion of the blind comic that was patiently waiting backstage). She’s actually much prettier in person than she appears in videos or television. Not that she’s unattractive, but her features are much softer up close. I say “close” because we actually moved to the front row at the host’s request before the start of the show.

If you’ve spent any time with Sarah (my girlfriend, not Silverman) and I, there’s a good chance you know that we both like to laugh—loudly. We put the “OL” in “LOL.” This actually became a “home base” for many of the comics to regroup with. My laughing drew the attention of several of the comics enough to be used as points of interest. The co-host actually asked me what I was doing every night for the rest of his career, so that I could always be in the audience. Another, when drawn to downstage right, decided to run with the fact that I am Asian (if you didn’t know…technically, I call myself American, my parents are Filipino, but that’s a totally different story).

Anyway, my previous apprehension to sit in the front row of a comedy club (yes, I did have that reluctance) has been faced point blank, and it wasn’t that bad. It actually led me to discover how different stand up comedy is among the live performing arts.

Having theatre experience, almost a year of radio experience, and seen stand-up comedy from different perspectives, the revealed variances are quite interesting.

In the theatre, the audience’s reaction is often blamed and thanked by many actors. We hold for laughs (some people wait for them, but that’s something else…), but altogether, our performances are comparably rigid in regards to audience reaction.

In radio, there is even less, if any, audience interaction. Talking in the studio by myself, I often pause as if I’ll hear audience reactions (being used to the theatre), and I’ll usually call myself out in my unwarranted pockets of air. Having a co-host in the studio, it’s a little different, because we can talk to each other, but we still have an audience that we have to regard even though we are completely unable to witness their responses.

In stand-up comedy, I’ve seen some comics walk off the stage in anger because of heckling, others fade away in the silence of the deadened crowd, and some completely snub the audience responses to continue their momentum. This last tactic is interesting, and I had never seen it before in my few experiences with stand up. Obviously, the reaction of the audience carries the greatest magnitude on stand up comedy (at least, compared with theatre and radio), but if a rehearsed set means barreling through a series without allowing the audience to fully experience it is somewhat selfish and rude. Likewise, listening to the audience can completely re-route your set, but the comedian may choose to ignore this reaction (whether it be positive of negative) and continue on the path they are comfortable with.

A three-hour comedy show is grueling, especially if there are more awkward/uneasy performers. Regarding the audience is something that some directors/producers/hosts don’t care about (I’ll add this to my “blogs to be written” list). I’d be lying if I said the performers towards the end of the evening got the same responses the earlier ones did, but whatever the platform may be, whether it be with a seven minute set or a four minute karaoke song, it takes something to actually get up there and do it, and for that, I applaud you.

I’ll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for coming out. Good night.

12 July 2011


Some things are clearly beyond your control.

The acknowledgement of this simple fact can relieve you of countless hours of stress. Some things are more obvious: the weather, the outcome of a game you’re watching on TV, an animal the runs across the street, you get the picture. In other instances, it may not be so apparent: a conditioned athlete incurring a freak injury, a drunk driver barreling down the street at you while on your morning run, an audition.

It wasn’t until I began directing that I accepted the honesty of why I didn’t get cast in certain roles. Sometimes, it isn’t about the best audition, call back, or resume. It could be an aesthetic issue. It could be chemistry (or the lack thereof). It could be a matter of balance. If you’ve ever looked at a cast list and thought to yourself, “What?!?! I totally read better than [insert name of cast member]!!” Your emotions have forced the acknowledgement of a bigger picture into submission. Obviously, emotions will have some effect your reaction, and although it may not help the disappointment at the time, once you understand that some things are beyond your control, it makes it a little easier to swallow.

If you have any preconceived notions of how a play “should be cast,” you are already setting yourself up for a disappointment—even if the play is a time-tested classic—do not walk into the audition showing the director how to cast your preferred role. A teacher once told me that it’s the actor’s goal to get a callback. The casting is up to the director. The best practice is to go in as prepared as you can be, showcase yourself, and strive for the callback.

Prepare. Don’t plan.

Whether you’re an actor, a teacher, an athlete, a salesman, or a stay-at-home dad, there are some things you can prepare for and some things you can’t. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have control of most of the things related to you. What kind of shape you’re in, your hair, your voice, your level of education, blah, blah, blah. You can’t control the co-worker that cheats on his/her spouse to sleep with your boss to get the promotion that you’ve been busting your ass for. You can’t change the mind of the crooked delegate that was bought by filthy rich investors. You can’t change the mind of the shallow director who casts the lead actor because she wants to sleep with him. You can’t turn back time on the parents that abuse their children. You can’t save the prisoners of warlords.

But you can work for a better organization, vote for someone else, get cast in something else, and rise above the flames instead of wallowing in your misery of victimization. I feel like I say this in more blogs than not, but…everything in moderation. I’m not saying you should turn the other cheek and be a doormat, but you should be able to pick your battles, because most of the ones that people choose to engage in are giant wastes of time.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference

-Reinhold Niebuhr

A couple of my tattoos support my acknowledgement of this blog. I’ll add the story behind my tats to the list of things to write about in the future…I used to think that tattoos and piercings were something that would never be a part of my clean cut, church-going, pre-Navy lifestyle, but I changed the way I thought. About a lot of things. Mostly about things I can control.

11 July 2011

Uncontested competition

Whether you like it or not, you’re always competing—with a rival, an unseen opponent, multiple parties, or yourself. However, it isn’t always a contest for a prize or a definitive position of supremacy. When I joined the Navy in ’99, I discovered that if you weren’t from a major city, you were associated with the closest relatable metropolitan area. I’ve never lived (nor do I intend to live) in San Francisco. I’ve lived in Oakland, and further inland, but never in SF. Outside of California, especially at basic training in Illinois and back east in South Carolina, a Full Metal Jacket type dialogue would begin once San Francisco was brought up.

“Where you from, boy?”

“Antioch, CA, petty officer.”

“Where’s that?”

“About 45 minutes inland of San Francisco.”

“Saaaaan Fraaaancisco?!?! You a queer?”

“No, petty officer, no I am not.”

“Well if you’re from San Francisco, you must be queer.”

[downward spiral from which there is no saving grace…]

Throughout the United States, San Francisco, California is lauded as the “gay capital” or the “gayest city” around. Others may say Atlanta, Georgia. Some, Columbus, Ohio.

Now how is it that this city by the bay has risen head and (fabulous) shoulders above so many others? Is it that they have the highest population of homosexuals per capita? They’re the most gay-friendly city in America?

How about, they’re just the loudest in San Francisco.

Having been to SF Pride myself, I’ve seen firsthand how crazy (aka awesome) the gay community gets. Searching around the (highly credible) internet, other cities in different parts of the United States are crowned as more gay-friendly/gayer/whatever you want to call it.

Surprise! The perception by the people is different from the results of empirical research.

Shifting gears, say there are two job seekers…wait for it…competing, unbeknownst to each other, for the same position. One is M.B.A.-holding alum from Villanova, the other with a B.A. in Dance from [insert obscure state university name here]. The dance major has a professional-looking resume, self-maintained website, business cards, and interviews magnificently. The Nova grad is booksmart, but soft-spoken, timid, and easily startled.

Say both of them submit applications and both are accepted for interviews. The Master’s holder is probably a higher candidate at this point, looking stronger on paper. Post-interview, including follow-up correspondence by the dance major, the dancer gets the job.

Don’t hate.

If you’re competing with someone who you may be better than, but they’re louder about it (in a positive manner), you can’t fault them for getting a little more love than you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about teamwork, collaboration, and helping hands, but if I don’t look out for myself, or any organization that I’m a part of, then why should anyone else? Just like when I moved back to California against the wishes of 99.9% of my peers/friends in Virginia Beach, I had to do what I felt was better for myself. Me. #1.

Do what you got to do.

This applies in personal growth, social standing, and professional recognition. (Although, this next part should be a bit of “this goes without saying,” but we all know how common “common sense” is…) Everything in moderation, my friends. Today’s blog, by no means, is my condoning of ruthless warfare on your journey to the top. I don’t promote using people for stepping stones in a bridge-burning manner, but if someone helps you up and doesn’t want to climb up after you, you aren’t obligated to drag them along.

No one gave me instructions on how to live, and if you’re still looking for your manual, stop wasting your time…THEY DON’T EXIST.

If some competitor, company, person, colleague, or whatever is doing something positive that you find yourself raising an eyebrow at, that’s probably because they thought of it before you did.

In case you missed it the first time…

Don’t hate.

Do what you got to do.

There are three words that are more motivating and real than any advice a Tootsie Pop licking owl can tell you. Call it hickish, hillbilly, redneck, or country bumpkin flavored, but it’s really this simple:

Git er done.

10 July 2011


Seven is one of my favorite movies ever. (What's in the box?!!?) Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, the seven deadly sins, and one of the best villain entrances in cinematic history (“Detectiiiiiiive!”)

Nine, the musical, is based on (according to many people) one of the greatest films ever made—Fellini’s 8 ½. Nine, the animated film thanks Tim B. and Timur B., is about sack puppets saving the world. Nine, the film attempt at the musical, well…I’ll just stop there before the develops into a battle of theatre and film.

Eleven is the smallest two-digit palindrome, polysyllabic numeral, and often confused with the roman numeral for the number two.

Two of these three numbers are prime, one is a perfect square, and the sum of all three numbers is equal to the root of the aforementioned square, cubed.

These three numbers also comprise today’s date.

Numbers are interesting things, if you cared enough to pay attention or look into it. Some people are into numerology, some people have favorite numbers, some have an affinity for palindromes, patterns, and/or sequences.

When Angel, one of my recruiters, (ironic?) was driving me to MEPS before I shipped out, he told me that the secret to everything was the number 4. Interested in his explanation, I was all ears.

Hooray! Audience participation!

Think of anything (in English, I haven’t attempted this in any other language): a person, a place, a thing, a verb, anything. Proper nouns are acceptable, this “thing” that you think of doesn’t even have to be limited to one word.

Count the number of letters in your selection.

Whatever number you end up with, count the number of letters in that.

Repeat as necessary.

You’ll end with 4.

Here’s one of the examples I tried to stump Angel’s theory with:

“George Washington’s wooden teeth”

  • “George”: 6
  • “Washington’s”: 11
  • “Wooden”: 6
  • “Teeth”: 5

Total: 28


  • “twenty”: 6
  • “eight”: 5

Total: 11

“eleven”: 6

“six”: 3

“three”: 5

“five”: 4

“four”: 4


Try it. Anything. You always end up with 4.

Think about it. What comes in 4s?

  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • The Four Corners: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico
  • The tennis Grand Slam: US Open, Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon
  • The baseball grand slam.
  • The four seasons
  • The Four Tops
  • The four presidents of Mount Rushmore: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln
  • The Beatles
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
  • The Four Horsemen (the shot: Johnnie, Jim, Jose, and Jack)

Other (not so obvious/famously known as) quartets

  • The Three Stooges (and Shemp).
  • The Holy Trinity (and the Devil)
  • The Three Musketeers (Porthos, Aramis, Athos) and the apprentice (d’Artagnan)
  • Boyz II Men

I didn’t make this up. It’s there. I’m just sharing the knowledge the was bestowed upon me twelve years ago (almost to the day…that entry will come later this month…)

‘fore I go, I’ll leave with this…


May the Fourth be with you.

“Fourscore and seven years ago…”

Merry Fourthmas to all, and to all a good night.

(I could probably go on, but if I extended the list past four, it would almost seem blasphemous.)

09 July 2011

Thanks, Julia and Richard

Benedict. Maggie Carpenter likes Eggs Benedict, not poached, fried, scrambled, or even egg white omelets.

Eggs = Baseball.

Living in Oakland, California (at least for the first few years of my life)—in the time of Eckersley, the Bash Brothers, and Tony La Russa—I was raised to be an A’s fan. Some found this conflicting with my SF 49ers fandom (which, I might add, is the ONLY team I’m currently a fan of that I have been since I was little), but I didn’t really care. Aside from watching the Battle of the Bay and the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Athletics didn’t have a lot of bearing on my young life.

In Virginia, I was injected with NASCAR and college football (Boomer!), but the A’s didn’t really stick in my east coast transplanting. When I moved back to California, Tony Stewart and the Sooner Schooner came with, but after a couple Giants games at AT&T Park, I had to admit that by default, going to more Giants games than A’s games made me more of a Giants fan. Besides, my girlfriend at the time was a Giants fan, and I was being supportive (aka indifferent).

Moving down to Long Beach as a Giants fan by associated, the Dodgers were off limits (not that I wanted any part of them anyway), and the next social rendezvous I got into started my relationship with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (Obviously, I picked the wrong season to stop following the Giants, but it was indicative of my emotional ties to the Frisco bay area.) Even with the passing of said rendezvous, my faith in the Angels has only increased.

I’ve taken quite a liking to the Angels in the outfield (and those among the infield…), and with Godzilla’s parting this season, my favorite number has led me to a new player…25 and Peter Bourjos. (Peter Bourjos Jelly Time, Peter Bourjos Jelly Time). This past Monday, the 4th, Bourjos landed a pretty sweet catch against the center field wall, and I was looking forward to more Angels antics at tomorrow night’s game as well. Unfortunately, he pulled a hammy last night and was replaced with a minor league call up, Mike Trout, who, although went 0 for 3, made a pretty sweet catch in the 9th to let the senior bigs know he isn’t just a replacement.

My apologies, I got caught up in tonight’s game and had to share a couple highlights.

So yeah, I’m an Angels fan. My eggs benedict of baseball. I’m no longer defaulting to whomever I’m dating, I actually have a team that I follow quite avidly (which is good for the summer time, because Sooner football is only September through January).

This minor development with major (league) details is only a sliver of a larger story that’s been in progress since 1999, and I think I’ll write about that tomorrow…or at least sometime soon.

It started when one of my close relatives came out of the closet…

08 July 2011

Talk to me!

I used the telephone today.

Back in 2008, I was directing Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train at DVC, and as my stage manager and I were discussing updates and communications, I realized that without a reliable laptop, a computer, or internet at home, my enlisting in the smartphone army was inevitable. The Blackberry became my new friend, emailing my happy little butt off all over the East Bay Area. Madame Berry and I had a little falling out a while later, but we had been reunited when I started at Long Beach State. Email became such a staple of communications (personal and professional) and the portable keyboard across the bottom of my minicomputerphonemessenger was one of my best friends.

In January of this year, with a promotion at work that deemed a more prominent social media presence, I made the jump to the Apple-flavored “dark side.” Oddly enough, said iPhone was the cheapest technological gizmo I had ever purchased, but my quick acquaintance with the touch screen and one-button handset sent my Blackberry typing fingers into deep, dark void. Obviously, autocorrect is the nemesis of many a textversation, but that didn’t stop my descent into touch screen-driven iMania. Pictures, videos, voice memos, and apps (oh my!)—and I could still email to my heart’s content? Oh, the apps: games, references, photo effects, sports highlights, Senorita 3GS was my iMami, and she is good to me. So good (or should I say, "so bueno"?).

Today, her and I had a little talk. A couple actually. Literally. Earlier this evening, as I popped open my friend Marshall (my MacBook) to start writing my blog for today…I was sidetracked by a sound I normally only hear in the morning when it’s time to wake up…my phone rang. My confusion of “why is my alarm going off right now?” was settled when I looked at my iMami and saw the name of a friend I had not heard from since the BSE (Before Smartphone Era). For almost the next 90 minutes, my actor-friend Danny and I talked on the phone.

Using my telephone, I spoke in real time with another person. Really.

Not two hours later, my dear friend Lainey (or “Elena” as a journalist re-named her in a recent review she was in) texted me with the simple message, “Skype?”, to which my initial reaction was, “dang it! I’m not at home by my laptop!” I quickly realized…wait, I can talk to you too, just as I did with Danny! Shortly after I shared this epiphany with her, there was that jingly tone (which was not so confusing this time), and all of a sudden, I was hearing a voice I hadn’t heard in…way too long.

Towards the end of our conversation I had mentioned that our conversation was more than we’ve literally talked all year—and it’s already July (if you hadn’t noticed). Not that we don’t keep in touch, far from, we text and wall post and message—but we rarely talk on the phone.

Now, I’m nowhere near as green as some of today’s children are, emerging from the womb with a Bluetooth and an XBOX Live membership, and I’m not so old that I was friends with the local switchboard operator, but my mild shock at the (sadly) uncommon act of using my iPhone to actually talk to someone in real time is a little disturbing. Am I the only one who uses their smartphone for just about everything besides what a phone was originally invented for? How do you think Alexander Graham Bell would react if someone told him that his name would be all over bicycle helmets in the 21st century, and that people used telephones for typing, recording pictures, and playing music like some possessed phonograph? He’d probably laugh in your face (quite heartily, because a man with a beard that size should only have a hearty, belly-shaking laugh).

The Telephone. Not just a catchy song by Lady Gaga, or a message-passing game played in a circle by grade school children (and actors), but an actual device where two beings can listen to each other in real time as if they were right in front of each other. I say two beings, because I’ve seen and heard plenty of people talk to their animals on the phone. Whether said pet is on the other line, filing their nails and cooking breakfast with a baby on their hip and the phone pinned between their ear and shoulder is another story…

Yesterday’s entry was about talking to people you don’t know. Today’s is coincidentally about talking to people you do know. I guess somewhere in the back of my brain (well, it was in the back earlier, now it’s definitely in the forefront) is the moral that we should all talk with each other more. Writing this in a blog is somewhat hypocritical, since it’s predominantly a one-way form of communication, but comments are appreciated, encouraged, and wanted. Talk to me, folks, whether I know you or not, and if you know someone who may want to talk…send em on over!


07 July 2011

It's a bird, it's a's a person!

Quick quiz:

Which of the following statements are offensive/intimidating?

  1. “Gimme all your money”
  2. “Don’t scream.”
  3. “Is she about a size 14?”
  4. “Good morning”
  5. All of the above

Apparently, the correct answer is 5.

  1. alludes to a robber of some sort
  2. probably has a rag over your mouth
  3. is only funny if you know who Clarice is
  4. the core of this post

Yes, you read that right, “Good morning” is apparently offensive and/or intimidating to some people.

Walking down the street to work at 8am, greeting morning runners and walkers is socially unacceptable to more people than not. Even later in the day, at the grocery store or Target, walking down an aisle, greeting a complete stranger is intrusive. Obviously, it depends on how the salutation is delivered, but assuming a welcoming/endearing greeting is offered, reciprocation isn’t always the response.

Why are people so afraid of people? Are different people really so scary that you put more effort into not acknowledging them than into regarding them like an actual human? I can only think of one, count it, one instance when I had engaged/been engaged in actual dialogue with another human and it not developed into pleasant conversation or a civil exchange.

In my beginning acting class, my teacher confessed to us that she is the type of person that walks around the grocery store with her head down and interacts as little as possible. (However, on stage, she was one of the most powerful, commanding women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working opposite.) During another session, she categorized me as one of those “across the quad” people—meaning I’d be the type to yell your name out across the central quad at school and coming running at you full speed to envelope you a huge bear hug. (She was right.)

On stage is obviously a different world, but how different is it really? It involves observing, connecting, listening, engaging, reacting, and everything else included in interpersonal communications, verbal and non-verbal. On stage, us actors acknowledge that we’re supposed to be present, engage, and react (among other things), but how is it that off stage, in department stores, walking to work, on public transportation, it’s almost taboo to engage someone you don’t know in civil dialogue. Yeah, I get it, “don’t talk to strangers,” but seriously, everything in moderation. If no one talked to strangers, our world would be much quieter; full of passive-aggressive beings with pent up emotions.

In any case…if you’ve seen Fight Club…consider this next part to be your assignment (but nowhere near as destructive as Project Mayhem):

Greet 5 people you don’t know and have more than a three-line exchange with them—past the “how’s it going?” and the “good, thanks. You?” and have an actual mini-conversation with them.

Alternative: Compliment 5 (or even 3) people as you walk by them…and watch as the expression on their face:

  1. doesn’t change
  2. visibly looks like they’re still processing what just happened
  3. calculates how to respond to the “rude/inappropriate pass” that they s/he was just subject to. (note: just because someone compliments you doesn’t mean they are trying to sleep with you. They might just be paying you a compliment.)


A few months ago I was outside the theatre building at CSULB, smoking a cigarette, and couple of people who I knew walked by, looking like they were in hurry. To the first I said, “hi, [Toni]” (name changed to protect the identities) and one responded, “good, thanks.” And sped off. I laughed because (if you’ll notice)…I didn’t even ask how [Toni] was doing…

Point being, if you hadn’t caught on…don’t be afraid of people. Engage and interact. Greet a stranger (please use a little discretion, and don’t go uncomfortably far out of your safety zone. I don’t take any responsibility for any confrontations this leads to.)

I don’t think there’s any other way to end this blog than with a simple…

Good night.

06 July 2011

True Story

Telling a lie is different from withholding the truth. Sometimes, the latter is worse. Occasionally, lying is acceptable. For example, if you’re throwing a surprise birthday party, and the soon-to-be celebrant inquires of such events, it is best to keep the cat in the bag. In other instances, it may be acceptable if it’s the lesser of the two evils, e.g., if an individual confronts an ex-significant other with certain questions, the interrogated party may choose to respond with the less painful answer, albeit dishonest.

If acting is “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” (Meisner) then how does writing match up? Granted, non-fiction writing is just that, non-fiction. Factual. Real. Actual events told from whatever the perspective. Fiction? According to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, “fiction” is defined as “something invented by the imagination…” In that case, any event that is not experienced firsthand is fiction to some degree.

This could really go on for hours…

In any case, any story told could be considered fiction or non-fiction.

Come, gather, hear me out before you walk away unimpressed.

If I told you a story about a little boy who had daydreams of being a hero for a girl he had a crush on in grade school, would you consider that fact or fiction? Depending on the context, and the way the story was told, it’s debatable.

Story time.

In the fourth grade there was a girl named Amanda. I had a huge crush on her, and for whatever reason, I envisioned catastrophic events descending upon our classroom, bad guys breaching the walls, guns a blazin’, and my tiny little (maybe) 60 pound frame darting across the room to take a bullet for her. In my wounded state, she would cradle me in her arms, screaming bloody murder, but still gentle in her gaze when she looked upon me in my last moments, confessing to me that her long-hidden love for me would never die…

Fact or fiction?

I guess it’s up to me to tell you either way, or neither, allowing you, the reader, to decide for yourself based on my credibility and/or storytelling prowess.

If Meisner’s definition of acting is “the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” then my definition of writing is “the ability to truthfully tell a story under circumstances determined by the author.”

Whether I’m recounting actual events or “creating” a plotline utilizing “imaginary” characters, my telling of the story is truthful—I’m actually telling it. How am I telling it? Through whatever structure I (may or may not) determine ahead of time, based on how the story will be conveyed—live to an audience whose reaction I can regard, or recorded/written as a blog such as this.

I intend on writing a book of some sorts before I die. Perhaps it will simply be a collection of stories, or maybe it will actually be one continuous story about my life. Those I have spoken to about this possess mixed opinions about certain things, i.e., the usage of real names, but in the grand scheme of things, aside from those that know me within the first degree and know the (TBD) stories, the majority of (hopeful) readers won’t know anything about me, where I’m from, who I knew, or if these stories are…wait for it…real, or (for the sake of the argument) non-fiction.

Everything anyone can say can be absolutely real, but is it true? That’s a different story (pun intended). I might not always tell true stories, but I can vow that each and every one of them will be real. I’m really writing them, and I’m really sharing them. In the case that I’m sharing someone else’s words, I’ll be sure to properly credit the, because although I may sometimes lie, I’m far from a fraud.

One more story...

In the winter of 2001 I started a journey in a place I had never been My eyes had been opened, my mind was blown, and my heart was never the same. I occasionally thank the girl that changed my life, and sometimes I blame her for my timeline in becoming a man, but that doesn’t change the fact that I will always attribute a large part of this process to her. Recently, I talked to this woman (because she did grow up) and she congratulated me on my developments, unfortunately, I could not wish her the same.

Sometimes I still daydream of being a hero for her: taking a bullet, pushing her out of the way of a speeding motorcade, or stopping her from impending doom. Occasionally, I am stopped in my tracks by a glance from someone that thanks me for what I have done. These gazes do not belong to her, nor will they ever. She will not thank me for saving her life, nor will I be able to save hers. Whichever the case may be, I will always strive to be a hero in her eyes.

True story.

Or is it?

04 July 2011

Something old, Something new. A little red, and white, and blue.

I found this in an earlier Facebook Note, and I wanted to share it, being July 4th. It’s something I had written for an online creative writing class one summer with DVC, and I’m posting it unedited:
“In the pen dance day”
these red and white bars behind which I sleep

represent feelings of war and peace,
they say

but if there is peace
there is no need for war

white stars hang high in the dark blue sky

parading their magnificence for all to see
but what good do they serve if they stay protected from the battle between red and white?

back and forth taking turns

like seasons of war and peace
the red and white bars alternate
but we start with war

and do not end in peace

now what does that say about US
maybe we should look at ourselves
and discover what we symbolize

The pictured ensign I received from the crew (I almost said “cast” hahaha) of the USS Hyman G Rickover, SSN-709, when I had re-enlisted in October of 2002. I still have it, and it currently sits shoddily folded on top of my shelf. It hasn’t touched the ground, and I have yet to get a shadow box for it.
Yes, if you didn’t know, I’m a US Navy veteran, ’99-’04, honorably discharged for medical reasons. No, I didn’t go to Iraq, or anywhere else in the Middle East, and to some ignorant civilians, my lack of participation in OIF/OEF completely negates my service in the US Armed Forces. This fact has raised a point of contention in more than a couple of instances, all of which, I wish it hadn’t.
In a complaint speech assignment for a speech class at DVC, I chose the “oh, you weren’t in Iraq” topic as my target. To my recollection, the outstanding statistic from that speech was that approximately 73% of the US Armed Forces would not be stationed/deployed to the Middle East. Seventy-three percent. But thanks to the media and narrow-minded scope of many, serving in Afghanistan is the only noble way to validate your time in the military. Not to say that those serving out there are negligible, far from, what I’m saying is the other side, don’t view the rest of us as negligible.
Obviously, I can only speak for myself, so please don’t take this as a generalization of veterans’ opinions. Luckily, my separation from the military means I won’t have to go east to serve, but that doesn’t change the fact that I served in a different way—a much different way—aboard a submarine. Not only that, but the Rickover was apart from any battle group.
It’s getting late, and I can always come back to this later, but I wanted to post this to share the free write poem from 2008 and to toss a little knowledge out there.
Happy Independence Day, USA. Everyone be safe and enjoy the day.

Incoming! Direct Hit.

I don’t even remember half of the things I saw today, but I was a part of something good, and apparently there were people there that I knew, but didn’t know they were there.

Don’t look. See.

Don’t hear. Listen.

Don’t act. Be.

In between the stressors of failed logistics (“the best laid plans…”), variables beyond our control behind schedule (Don’t plan. Prepare), and the actor inside me wanting to don a red nose and be a part of the circus, it hit me—I’ve opened another show as a director.

It may sound odd, but I didn’t wholly realize that I was directing a show, because said hat was enveloped in other…

I just hit a wall.


What I’m trying to say is that somehow, between the press interviews, pulling costumes, spray painting murals, script rewriting, video/photo editing, and other administrative details of the project, I’ve managed to overlook the simple detail that:

I’m doing exactly what I wanted to after I graduated from college—directing.

I’ve been so wrapped up in looking for a theatre-related job (while still working at my non-theatre-related job), facilitating LBTAC (which is still in early developmental stages), and trying to enjoy my first summer out of school, that I’ve muddied my own glasses working up to my knees in exactly what I should be doing.

Stop looking, Marlon, you’re already doing it. (Yes, I just talked to myself.)

In the fall of 2005, after I had moved back to California, I wanted to take one class at Diablo Valley College (to reacclimate myself into studenthood) while I worked. “Worked” was a bit of an understatement, and if you know anything about me from the last 5 years, the following shouldn’t surprise you. My math class was only twice a week from 4-7 pm. During the day (i.e., before 3pm) I would work as a teacher’s assistant at schools throughout the Antioch Unified School District. I would then leave that job, and (on days I wasn’t going to class) I would slip into my awesome blue polo and blue visor, and deliver pizza’s for Domino’s until 8, when I would change again, and head out to the bar of the night…to karaoke DJ until 1am. Did I make some money? Hell yeah. Did I drink it away? Of course. Did I have fun? You bet I did.

Not that I’m spouting this off as a “look how awesome I am” checklist, there really is a point. Now, I’m working one (nearly) full-time job, and working on other (essentially) voluntary projects/organizations: LBTAC, KBEACH Radio (In the Wings, every Friday at 2pm with Lucy Craig), and reviewing for the Examiner (when I can). The number of jobs/commitments/projects hasn’t changed, but the focus has. I’m spending more time and energy doing theatre-related activities. THAT is evolution that I’ve been striving for.

I’m far from done, though. In many ways, I’m only just beginning, but to see the change that has happened in the last six years I’ve been back in California…woof.

Tomorrow is nationally recognized as Independence Day. For me, this one will ring truer than the just independence of the USA from the British. It will ring with a personal independence that I must not lose sight of—an independence that I have gained through my own hard work, and a support system of episodic and long-term friends/colleagues, and time.

I was directing before I knew I wanted to be a directing major. I started directing myself, and it’s the greatest show I’ll ever work on.

02 July 2011

Read between the (spray painted) lines

Late last night on a brick wall in Buena Park I learned to spray paint—basic coloring and single-stroke lettering. Not that I’m promoting graffiti (there was paper taped to the aforementioned wall, upon which I painted with sprayage), but I now have a new point of view on the art that many call “unsightly.” Visual artists command, depending on their preferred medium, a sense of finesse and grace (Jackson Pollock excepted)—including those that tag. With a brush, there is an “easily” manageable degree of control, precision, and foresight (comparably), but with spray paint, there’s an element of surprise, and no way to turn back. Knowing your medium is obviously a central theme, but with a tiny nozzle at the top of pressurized can, how much is foresight, and how much can you actually control it?

First off, spray paint comes out at different angles, strokes, and speeds. A brand new can has a bunch of paint particles in the can with their engines revving like high school seniors shooting Hangover Part III, a half-empty can is a bit more manageable (noticeably less dripping) but still produces a substantial spread, and the can on its last spurts, is just as sad as it sounds…on its last spurts. Throttling the escape route of spray paint is easily recognizable as a life lesson, or an acting lesson, or simply a painting lesson—make the bold choice, commit to it, and accept your decision. Limply depressing the nozzle will produce an uneven, spotted stroke; exciting to a microscope, but completely negligible from afar. Pinning the nozzle down into submission literally floods the tip and bombards your paper (or intended medium) with a rushing river of vivid ink. (If you didn’t realize, to use spray paint, you probably have to be painting on a vertical surface, meaning gravity will showcase your heavy-handedness with a drip fringe rivaled by Aladdin’s magic carpet or Yosemite Sam’s moustache.) Finding that happy (nozzle pressure) place takes a little experimenting, and I think of it similar to Othello (the game, not the play)—“a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.”

The result of this spray painting endeavor was on display today (for the first of four times) at Promenade Park in Long Beach as a part of LBTAC’s portion of Watts Village Theater Company’s Meet Me @Metro II. A mural was taped up to a structure, and for a sneak peek at our show, jump to minute 45 of the link below to catch a recording of the live stream from earlier today.

Meet Me @Metro II livestream recording, July 2, 2011

And so, the new acquaintance of spray paint has more than provided a set piece for a show, it has revealed a moral message through the massive misconception of tagging being only for gangsters and troubled individuals. The precision and artistic prowess that these artists of the night exhibit are things that some of us may never be able to parallel, and sadly, they themselves may not even realize the potential that is narrowly focused into this act; but I saw something, and although I am only one man, that’s one more person in the world that has realized something important about themselves. If it wasn’t for a theater company in a city I had only heard about from Dr. Dre, I would have never full realized how much work goes into that “unsightly” tagging that many disregard as art.

To share a popular quotation (among actors, and hopefully more):

“Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.”


To share a not so popular quotation from an artist I admire:

"Act from the depth of your feeling imagination. Act for celebration, for search, for grieving, for worship, to express that desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness. Don’t worry about Art. Do these things and it will be Art.”

-John Patrick Shanley

The art is there. We don’t have to make it, we just have to recognize it.

And so it begins…

The adventure to blog something daily.

The night before Meet Me @Metro II opens.

The month of July.

The second half of the year 2011.

The list goes on…

If this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, welcome.

If you’ve read others, welcome back.

If this is the last time you’ll be visiting, you’re welcome.

This is blog’s only consistent thread is me. This isn’t a “theater blog,” a ranting page, a poetry site, a collection of letters, quotations, blah, blah blah. This blog is the public display of the development of Marlon D. Deleon as…

A writer

A man

An artist

A teacher

A student

A director

An actor

A blogger


I will not make you any promises, so the fewer expectations you have of this blog (because this blog is not me, it’s only an online sliver), the better your enjoyment. You may learn a little about Marlon, you may learn a little about yourself. This may change your opinion of me as a person, a professional, or an artist, but if it does, that means I said something that mattered.

Whether you comment or not is entirely up to you. I have no way of tracking who reads this, how many (or how few) times it’s visited, nor do I have any intention of implementing any such practice, this blog is my way of talking to the world whether someone’s listening or not.

I’ve always believed that writing a blog is like leaving a letter in the corner of a crowded room, partially hoping someone picks it up and reads it, partially wanting to yell out to the crowd, but too afraid/ashamed/lazy to draw everyone’s attention. This blog is about me and the way I see things. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, I’m saying that this is what I saw, and this is what I think. It may sound simple, but not enough people do that honestly. Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of people that say what they think, but how many people do it honestly. without an agenda. This blog is not for political fame, artistic advancement, or e-masturbation, this blog will simply be a tributary of my mind, channeled through my fingertips to the internet via my iPhone blogging app, or whatever computer I can get my grubby little hands on.

So welcome aboard. I’d say, “strap in,” but that’s too cliché for me. I’m not that riveting, but I’m far from boring. I’ll write something everyday as a way of sharing myself with you. Feel free to share back, but don’t feel obligated. If you like what you see, let me know. If you don’t, definitely let me know. I like shared dialogue. Mutual discussion. That may sound ironic, being I’m sending a one-way conversation of a blog out there, but it’s gotta start somewhere…