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 ;)

30 October 2012

I am Mr. T.

If this isn’t your first visit to my blog, you may have noticed that my style of blog-writing is very blunt, honestly raw, and (to put it in terms of my theatre-brethren), very stream-of-consciousness. It may be hypocritical of me, but when I share a story on my personal blog (versus a professional online column like the Long Beach Acting Examiner or via website content at work), I tend to tell a story in words as I would say it aloud as if you were sitting next to me at a bar top. To me, this blog is similar to what happens when I’ve had one too many drinks and you aren’t doing anything but listening…

I’m a first-generation American, middle of three children, to a couple of folks that were born in the same country, but didn’t meet until they were both in the California. Being a first-gen kid is an interesting thing, and I’ve thought about it a lot over the last 13 years (since I moved out after high school), but with some new realizations in the last couple of weeks.

I’m getting married in a little over two months, and my wife-to-be comes from large family with many as many similarities as there are differences in comparison to my own. I’ve met members from four different generations on both sides of her family, and it’s quite an amazing thing to really take notice of. Recently, we had celebrated the birthday of one matriarch (on her father’s side), and at one point in the evening, we all gathered in one area of the house so that the parents could share stories of their father, the birthday celebrant’s late husband, so that the younger generations could learn a little more about their family history.

As interesting and engaging as many of the stories were, it was a little challenging for me as learning more about my fiancée’s family ignited the self-interrogative spark and I began thinking through my own family tree.

All four of my biological grandparents have passed, and truth be told, I never met my maternal grandfather because he never came to America and I never went there. My maternal grandmother, Mama, passed shortly after I turned eight years old, and my father’s parents passed in the first decade of this century.

Listening to the stories at that recent birthday party and looking around at the multiple generations and varying ages, with my upcoming nuptials on my mind, I can’t help but realize the magnitude of what I’m actually going to do (very excitedly, thank you very much). We want to have kids (but not right away), and as we’ve been planning our wedding, it really makes you look at your life and your friends, and as sad it is to say, forcing you to choose about who you can afford to invite. (This could be a perfect segue into why people should charge to attend their weddings instead of paying for their friends to come hang out, but that’s another story…)

I digress. First-generation American, getting married, kids. Yes, kids and passing on traditions. However, to pass on traditions there have to be traditions already in place. This is where I get tripped up. I’ve led an interesting life that has included a lot of firsts. I was a member of the one of the first-ever sixth-grade classes at Jack London Elementary (I think the time capsules we buried might still be by the flagpole, but I’ll have to look into that). I was a part of the first graduating class (yes, ever) of Deer Valley High School. (This would also make me the first mascot of DVHS, but I don’t think that’s recorded anywhere, and it was definitely before there was a wolverine suit, so it’s my word against yours, haha.) My dad did serve in the U.S. Army for a couple years before he was married, but I believe I was the first one to join the Navy. I wasn’t the first one in my family to graduate from college, but I am the first Beach Alumni (and my fiancée is also Beach Alumni, as are both her parents, and one of her brothers-in-law…).

Point being, all these firsts, thanks to the opportunities I’ve been privileged enough to grasp, are starting what could be traditions in the family that my wife-to-be and I will grow together. I don’t plan on forcing our kids into the Navy or to go to CSULB, and I definitely don’t plan on moving back to where they would go to DVHS like I did, but what I have to offer them is a very unique blend of American gumbo I’ve picked up over the years through several states.

Let’s just talk about sports. Here’s the list of where my fandom lies:
  • NFL—SF 49ers
  • MLB—LA Angels
  • NBA—Los Angeles Clippers
  • College Football—Oklahoma
  • NCAA everything else (but primarily MBB and WBB)—LBSU
  • NASCAR—Tony Stewart (yes, I’m calling NASCAR a sport…shut it)

And to think in a few months I’ll be living in the heart of Fighting Irish country, closer to Colts, Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Cubbies fans…at least I already know my neighbors are NASCAR fans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a wonderful example of carving your own path, traveling wherever the fair winds and following seas take me (Go Navy!), but now that I’m getting married, my perspective has drastically shifted and I can no longer float on the wind like a feather in Forrest Gump or like a plastic bag in American Beauty.

And this is where the oversized gold chains, mohawk, and poor fool pitying comes in—I’m the T in “tradition.” Where will our family’s traditions start? With my fiancée and I. With the ones that we share and tell them about, and you know what? Maybe they’ll change. I can’t say I’ll be a fan of all of the aforementioned teams together, I can’t promise that. Say for example, we end up having kids in Indiana and we start going to Bulls games, or Cubs game, or Colts games…those memories I could be making with my family could shift the thoughts I have now as we start our own traditions.

So yeah, I’m Mr. T in my future, and that’s no fault of anyone, that’s just how the decades and generations landed. Someone had to start somewhere, I just realized that that someone is me. I probably won’t go for the mohawk, but I may pity the poor fool who doesn’t realize that anyone could be that T in “tradition.” Don’t be that fool. Be that badass.

28 October 2012

Server neglect sent me to the ER

Going to happy hour at Claim Jumper in Long Beach is nothing new to my fiancée and I. We’ve been there plenty of times and are often pleased with the high quality of food and pleasant service at happy hour prices in a clean and relaxed atmosphere. This last visit, unfortunately resulted in a visit to the ER.

At first, everything seemed to be going fine, we find an open table without a problem and were promptly greeted by our server. Noticing a few new items on the menu, I asked about one I was interested in, Apple-glazed meatballs. Being severely allergic to nuts (not just peanuts as many inquire when I mention it), I explicitly state that I have said allergy, and that if there are no nuts in it, I’d like to put in an order for them to go along with our mini Caesar salads and drinks. Shortly after enjoying the meatballs (which I do admit, were glazed deliciously and had a pleasant taste to them), I started to exhibit tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction: an itchy mouth, lips, a slightly swollen throat, and a stronger than average upset stomach. When another server had brought out a separate item, I had asked him if there were nuts in the fish tacos (which I had, but had had previously) or the meatballs. Shortly after, a manager came out and I knew there was going to be a more serious discussion.

Apparently, after I had asked our server about the presence of nuts in the meatballs (again, stating that I am allergic to nuts), she had went back and asked if there were nuts “in the glaze” but not in the actual meatballs. As it turns out, there are cashews in the meatballs. The manager was apologetic and repeatedly apologized for the “miscommunication,” and then asked if there was anything else he could get us to help. Knowing from previous experience that I can sometimes “override” or “wash out” the nut-product residue (if it was only a small dose) I asked for a Sprite and some of the Asian spicy wings (which I’ve had before and do thoroughly enjoy). This didn’t help at all, and my fiancée and I decided that we needed to leave.

I did not explicitly ask for our tab to be comped, but I honestly did hope for some type of compensation, and was disappointed to discover that none would be offered. The manager did come by the table once more and asked for my phone number so that he could “check up” on me, and I gave him my business card from work, indicating that the number on it was my cell phone number.

Upon leaving, we stopped at a 7-11 to get a pack of Benadryl (which is the first line of defense before heading to the ER) and after taking two at home, the allergic reaction really kicked in and I broke out into a cold sweat and my body took care of rejecting everything I’ve eaten through nausea. At that point, my fiancée had driven me to the ER (thankfully very close to my house) and was quickly admitted since I was experiencing shortness of breath due to the swollen throat.

At the hospital, a couple of the attendants asked how I had eaten nuts if I knew I was allergic, and when I explained what had happened, they automatically assumed it was at an Asian restaurant since nuts are popularly used in Asian dishes. After sharing that it was at Claim Jumpers, they were as surprised as I was, acknowledging the restaurant to be a fairly straight-forward American eatery with steaks, burgers, and barbecue-style food. Needless to say, the next few hours (thankfully with my fiancée by my side) was a blur of IVs, blood draws, and shots of Benadryl and epinephrine. We eventually left (with a brand new bag of allergy-suppressing and after-effects remedial meds) and groggily went home.

The next day, feeling a little bit better, I tried going into work, but I gave my boss a heads up about the events of the night before and let her know that if I started feeling worse and not better, that I would take off. As much as I needed the hours, I couldn’t ignore my declining condition and left after a half day.

That last bit is probably more story than you needed, but my point is this: Servers, if a customer explicitly states that they have an allergy, you should treat it with great care. Don’t filter the question, or think you know the answer already, because what happened to me is a much milder case that what could have happened. I recognize that this server is just one server out of many at that establishment, and that we’re all human, but this is no laughing matter when it deals with the health and safety of a person’s life.

 Please share this with anyone you know that works in foodservice, has an allergy, or anyone. I'm not trying to come off as some radical allergy spokesperson, I'm just trying to help spread the word about something that affects many peoples' lives.

09 October 2012

Every veteran has a different story

I have a lot to say, and much of it I shouldn’t, so what does make it out of my head often ends up in a blog.

Before the age of 22 I had graduated from Navy basic training, Nuclear Powers school, qualified submarines, trained in firearms (9mm, shotgun, M-14, and M-16), went on deployments, and separated from the military as a disabled veteran from a service-connected disability.

I am not a combat veteran. I was never deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere in that part of the globe.

In junior college I had taken a speech class as a requirement and one of our projects was to present an argumentative speech. I chose a topic that centered on I don’t know what else to call but deployment guilt.

I graduated from nuke school the weekend before 9/11/01 and, with good reason, was asked by all of my friends and family if I was deploying to the Middle East with the orders I had just received. After separating, whenever my veteran status came up in discussion I was posed the question if I had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. When sharing with them that I had not, and that I was on a special-ops submarine (aka sans battle group), their mood often changed, seeming disappointed that I was not a part of the military that was the focus of every media channel. I don’t remember the exact statistics of my speech, but I remember the proportion of it. Of all the service members of the United States Armed Forces, approximately a quarter of them deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. For a fairly recent article with more credible sources, click here.

Now, I can’t blame the general public for inquiring about my location of deployment, and this is in no way a statement against those that did deploy to (or currently still are in) those locations—this is just the opinion of one veteran with one story. Contrary to the belief of a couple of my professors through college, I am not the singular spokesperson for the military, my experience is not indicative of everyone’s, and I am not making the decisions that send our troops over there.

I just occasionally feel like my time in service was negligible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for some national commendation, a movie deal, or a free lunch, but with the recent events of seeing Ajax in Iraq at CSULB and attending the Vet Net Ally seminar for CSULB staff and faculty, the story of my own service has been fresh in my mind.

Aboard the (now decommissioned) USS Hyman G. Rickover(SSN-709), I lived and worked among men—only—no, really, there were no women on board, and many times, these are the guys that I want to go grab a beer with after work, watch football with, and talk about what’s going on with my family, my upcoming nuptials, and life in general. We were brothers, fathers, sons, boyfriends, uncles—we were shipmates. We were all very different, but because of our isolated world of the silent service, we all held a common bond. On liberty, you may have different interests and drink in different bars, but underway, in the waters that have absolutely no regard for your skin color, your age, your creed, or even what flag you fly in port—we knew what it meant to get a job done. We left our families, friends, homes, and everything we knew for weeks at a time to do a job that we all voluntarily signed up for. Yeah, sub duty is voluntary. Many other details are assigned, often with preference, but submarine duty is something you go out of your way to take part of.

For weeks there is no sunlight—just fluorescent, buzzing ballasts and maybe a personal incandescent lamp. There are no windows, and fresh air is determined by the efficiency of the fan room. You smell of carbon dust, lube oil, and tin cans. After two weeks, your crew has already gone through all the fresh vegetables and fruit and you’re back to canned tomatoes, breaded chicken patties, and what resembles scrambled eggs. Emails were few and far between, and even then it’s extremely limited, and it’s probably mission-related. Television was limited to whatever movie the crew’s mess voted on after each meal, and if you’re lucky, you can stay awake for a couple games of spades or maybe a jam session or two with the guy that brought his guitar (or bought a violin “just because” in Norway).

There is no sand, incoming fire, or 120 degree heat (unless the fans go out back aft). There are no 70lb rucksacks, IEDs, or fear of snipers. CNN isn’t sending any reporters to talk to us, and there aren’t any photojournalists scurrying around hoping to shoot the cover of TIME magazine.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging, or if I said there weren’t many times I just “wanted to go home.” Likewise if I told you I loved eating those unidentifiable meals or hot racking. I will say that those weeks and weeks underway, and those days I stopped in my tracks on base to observe morning or evening colors are missed more often than not, and that joining the military right out of high school (or technically, while I was still in high school) was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I did what I signed up to do, most of it completely unplanned and usually by orders of people I had never met, but the intangibles that have stayed with me years after my last LES have continually reaffirmed that I learned what I should have and that my status as a veteran is hard-earned—combat veteran or not.

Fortunately, I’ll never truly know what those men and women experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to be honest, had I not been medically discharged, I probably would have tried to go back into the military at different times in the last eight years.

This “deployment guilt” I write about is no result of your actions—it’s from within my own mind as a result of my own environment and I see myself, and as blogs would have it, writing it out has produced another clear realization for myself—every veteran has a very distinctive story, and no person, organization, channel, or medium can diminish that. It is what it is for yourself, and my only hope is that it benefits you in the long run no matter where your story took you.

08 October 2012

Helping B25 at Window 3

I’ve been here before, but it wasn’t easy the first time, so I wouldn’t expect it to be so this time. A little catch up so you can follow…in ’99 I joined the Navy with a six year contract. In October of 2002 (almost to the day) I re-enlisted for six more, but in early 2003, I incurred my initial left-shoulder dislocation. Before the end of the year, I had transferred off my submarine (Hooyah, Rickover!) and awaited orders while serving with Sub Squadron Eight. Shortly after, my right-shoulder was jealous of my left and then went out for the first time ever as well.

Now, I’m left-handed, and so my left-shoulder injury (and a couple more in the next year and a half because it was now weakened) affected my ability to pass the PFT (then PRT)—in other words, I was unable to support my weight in the push ups portion of the test. We explored surgery as an option, but the docs explained to me that I essentially hadn’t been in the Navy long enough for it to benefit them to attempt the surgery and keep me in not at full strength. If you do the math, at this point, I was in for about four years and having entered the service at 17, soaked up the lifestyle and honored traditions quickly and felt proud to be a part of such a revered team. After leaving everything I knew after high school, I found a niche and began to make a home for myself on the east coast in this brand new life.

But the time came to start a new chapter.

On September 20, 2004, I separated from the Navy with an Honorable Discharge for medical reasons.

Relationships. Army contractor with General Dynamics. Maryland. Oklahoma. DC. Texas. Oklahoma. Life refocus. Move back to California in March of ’05.

  • Move to a new area and become a part of a team (Navy).
  • Major career event/change (medical discharge).
  • Refocus.
  • Long distance move (VA to CA).

Working in bars. Delivering pizzas. Start at DVC and return to the theatre that I felt comfortable in before I joined the Navy. After a fairly smooth transition back into the performing arts, I had reached a point where I felt like I was waiting for a professional validation to get me to the next level. That came in the form of being selected as the Advanced Student Director of 2008-2009 to direct Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train. A great victory was shared among friends and this experience will never be forgotten.

  • Move to a “new” area and become a part of a team (DVC/east bay).
  • Major career event/change (‘A’ Train).
  • Refocus.
  • Long distance move (Bay to LB).
  • Lather, rinse, and repeat.

In 2009 I injected myself into CSULB theatre. Before the end of 2010 I had broadened my effective spread and launched the Long Beach ActingExaminer (#LBAX) and Long Beach Theatre Arts Collaborative (#LBTAC) in addition to getting a job on campus with the Forty-Niner Shops (#49erShops). I was almost let go with the majority of rush employees in Book Info after that first summer, but I was snagged by HR to join the reception desk team upstairs before throwing in the towel. Eventually I had joined the Communications Department and became much more involved with the company. I’ve reached another plateau (for reasons unstated), and it has become time to refocus with a major life event over the horizon—I’m getting married.

  • Move to a new area and become a part of a team (49er Shops).
  • Major career event/change (getting married).
  • Refocus.
  • Long distance move (Long Beach to South Bend).

So it looks like my number has just came up and things are going “according to plan.” The questions I had in my head were sorted out in the typing of this blog. Although it has been difficult to acknowledge, my upcoming departure from the Shops isn’t a reflection of a lack of effort on my part, it’s more similar to the reasons the Navy wouldn’t operate on my shoulder to keep me in. So instead of looking at this as a lack of professional validation, it’s time to regard this as the world ascertaining the upcoming move to Indiana. The biggest difference in this chapter—it’s not just me anymore. I’ll be taking these next steps with a wonderful, beautiful, supportive wife.

Thanks for coming along with me on this little, late-night realization journey. Sometimes you just have to blog things out to make them clear.

22 September 2012

Stovetop Psychology

Just call me Jiffy Pop.

I am associated with movies, parties, fairs, happy hours and other events.

I can be salty, buttery, cheesy, or whatever you feel like having me be for the occasion.

But if you leave me alone for too long, or give me more heat that i really need to get going, I'm going to burn.

I won't be any fun, Ill probably make a mess in your house and throw stuff everywhere.

I'll leave stains on your hands, a terrible taste in your mouth, and in the end, I'll just have wasted your time when all you wanted was a little snack to accessorize your party.

Call it old school, call it stovetop psychology, but don't burn Jiffy Pop.

02 May 2012

Quikrete: Foundation

You know, as in cement, or was it a spin off for what I titled in my head "Quick write"?

It's now both. What started as an itch to post a "quick write," I thought of Quikrete (and several bags that sat in the garage growing up), which led to cement...and a foundation.

I've been learning a lot since graduation last May, and as my fiancee approaches her graduation in three fortnights, it's amazing to think I've been done with school for almost a year.

Quikrete. Foundation. Moving on.

I turned 18 after I graduated from boot camp. I enlisted in March of my senior year in high school, and left for boot camp less than two months after crossing that stage as part of the first ever graduating class of Deer Valley High School, Antioch, CA.

Having served in the Navy for 5 years and now having been conferred a Bachelor's degree, I can now reflect and compare the process of both paths. 

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed both chapters.
  2. Neither path was a cakewalk, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the journey. See #1.
  3. From my first full semester at DVC, I was glad I went into the Navy right out of high shcool.
  4. Through my final semester at CSULB, I was glad I went into the Navy right out of high school.
  5. While in the Navy, I had a CO tell me I was too immature to holder a senior position.
  6. While in college, I had a director tell me I took my job as an actor too seriously.
  7. Thanks to the Navy, I developed a work ethic with respect and understanding for superiors and rankings.
  8. Thanks to the Navy, I learned not to be afraid of superiors, regardless of rank, as long as I addressed them with respect for their rank in regards to my own.
  9. Thanks to my time the Navy and in college, I developed my work ethic, discovered talents and strengths, and gained confidence in my work to where I no longer felt necessary to hide behind a smile like I did through high school.
  10. One year out of college, and I'm starting to feel like the confidence, work ethic, and foundation I built from the Navy and forged through the diploma isn't right.

Before and after.

  • Before: Address with respect to the rank/title first, with consideration for the personality second.
  • After: Address the personality you're dealing with first,  with consideration for the rank second (if it all).

  • Before: Seniority paralleled rank/experience.
  • After: Seniority trumped rank or experience.

  • Before: Work out issues with a fight, over a couple beers, and show up the next day ready to work.
  • After: Let it stew, complain to HR, attribute it to personality issues and not really fix anything.

I've said it plenty of times in the last year, but I never thought that being in the Navy would be easier, less complicated, and have less drama to deal with.

For whatever reasons, the foundation that I've set does not offer solid footing for my current situation. I never thought respect for higher ranks (including, but not limited to honest, tactful criticism/conversation) would be wrong or discouraged, but I genuinely feel like it's not the way it works.

This, among other things, means it's time to go, and go I shall.

30 April 2012

Actors and Athletes Part II

Both actors and athletes alike compete and perform, and for it to be less messy, they tend to compete within their own circles. The disparity in the income earned between the two professionals is staggering, and as I am much more of an actor than an athlete (click here for Part I), I saw the difference from the financially inferior end. Until recently, I blindly scoffed and shook my head over and over as ESPN reported on trade deals, multi-million dollar contracts, and the poor attitude with which these business negotiations and offers were regarded, but I’ve begun to realize where this rift begins.

I have had the pleasure of attending (and working on) a large variety of theatrical performances, from free public school and community center performances to orchestra level seats on Broadway, and the ticket price range extends much, much higher than those I’ve been fortunate enough to afford. As for sporting events, tickets are not even necessary for some community leagues either, but I would be sorely naïve to omit the seats from this blog that I may never be able to afford—courtside NBA or 50-yard line bowl game.

Yes, the events are much different, and the venues are starkly different beasts, but the point is to illustrate the fee-based similarity in two distinctly different events: one where the audience watches athletes and the other to watch actors, and in both cases, premium ticket prices can soar into the thousands.

Fact: Both plays and games can get equally expensive, really quickly.

In any case, let’s get to the performance aspect. John Stockton and Doc Rivers have offered some of the best performances ever seen, but neither was nominated for a Tony. Conversely, the third gazelle from the left in Julie Taymor’s The Lion King could possibly outrun the average human, but they probably will not be invited to the NFL Combine. This should be no surprise, as Stockton and Rivers were NBA stars and didn’t set foot anywhere on a Broadway stage (at least in a running production), and dancers aren’t drafted on their ability to arabesque. However, it would be remiss to allow passage of the fact that actors exert themselves physically in addition to mentally, or that athletes are not challenged mentally.

Fact: Both actors and athletes exhibit levels of physical and mental prowess in their respective vocations.

What are the four requisites to qualify as a theatrical event?
  1. Performers
  2. Patrons
  3. Venue
  4. Content

Criteria Play/Musical Sporting Event
Performers Actors Athletes
Patrons Audience Fans
Venue House/Stage Stadium/Field
Content Script Game

What can we infer? That both stage plays and sporting events are theatrical events.

Fact: Competition is a major factor in both actors’ and athletes’ jobs.


In the public’s eye, when it comes to criticism, the athlete’s physical ability and the actor’s mental ability are their respective primary targets, regardless of the fact that physical and mental prowess are intertwined partners. Acknowledging society’s point of view on the difference between the two professionals, it can still be ascertained that both athletes and actors exert themselves physically and mentally during their performances.


Fact: Actors compete to perform for a living. Athletes perform in competition for a living.

Broken down…

The exhibition of (mainly) physical (but also mental) strength and prowess is the athlete’s art. Competition is the medium through which athletes perform.  At every level, athletes are competing with peers to get to “the big show,” and when they get there, it’s another competition. However, this terminal competition is viewed as entertainment to non-participants.

The exhibition of physical and mental strength and prowess (together) within a performance is the actor’s art. Competition is the medium through which actors earn the chance to perform. At the audition/callback level, actors compete with each other to get to “the big show,” but when they get there, it is no longer a competition, but a straight-forward performance purely for entertainment value.

But, if actors and athletes are so similar in the skills they possess to execute their jobs, why is there such a difference in the way they are viewed?

Fact: Physical superiority has had mental/creative superiority in a headlock for thousands of years.

In mind versus muscle, muscle has been glorified time and time again. Not to say the excellence of the mind is not regarded, but it’s just not as…dare I say—sexy.

As cliché as it is, let’s go back to the times of Greeks and Romans…

There were physical tournaments (think Olympics and the Colosseum with Gladiators) and theatrical festivals (Festival of Dionysus). Many enjoyed both, but how do you measure success?

When two athletes are pitted against one another, one can easily be declared a victor by whoever is still standing. When two actors (or playwrights) are pitted against one another, the victor is a matter of opinion—literally.

Striving for superiority, athletes and actors evolved and each pushed the boundaries of their craft. Bodybuilders were just that, building upon their own bodies, while actors were…building upon an intangible creative muscle. As athletes compete over measurable factors, actors perform (after the competition) for entertainment value. The theatre becomes a place of leisure and recreation while the stadium becomes a battleground for physical warriors.

Fact: Comedy is more criticized than fear.

As recreational theatre becomes a staple of entertainment, it becomes commonplace that theatre is meant to make the audience feel good. The apparent goal of this magical place where you can escape your own life is joy.

As athletic games develop around their measurable factors, it becomes a commonplace that games are about physical superiority, denoting a winner and a loser. Physical strength and intimidation result in the conquest of the opponent. The audience looks on, and the apparent goal is to be on the side of the victor.

With these two understandings, the presentation of the dramatic/though-provoking work faces some friction from the public as they have been trained that theatre is a place of laughter. Also, the physical conquest of the opponent (often resulting in death) raises a champion to the crowd, and as self-preservation prescribes, you side with the victor, because opposition may result in a fate similar to the carcass being carted off the field.

As time went on, a value was placed on the measurable art of athleticism, and the opinion-based success of actors bred an opinion-based value. Money, power, respect. Lather, rinse, repeat. Fast forward to 2012 and multi-million dollar contracts are flying around the world for athletes from…around the world. Physical competition is still being measured, pushed, and stretched, and the actors’ creative competition/performance is still opinion-based.

Although that delved further into the income disparity, it leaves one major factor out, and that will be explored in the future. That factor?


27 April 2012

Actors and Athletes Part I

Let the games begin.

Right off, yes, I acknowledge that between athletics and arts, I’m much better suited to address the latter. However, anyone can ask questions, regardless of vocation. I played the violin for many years, sang in choirs and vocal ensembles, directed for the stage, and acted in stage and screen pieces. In my own defense, though, I will proudly admit that I’m more than just my arts background. I enjoy sports. I like good beer and wine. I love pizza.

That's me in the middle as Angus in a production of the Scottish Play at Diablo Valley College. But enough about me.

Today was the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck to the Colts, RGIII to the Redskins, trade frenzy, A.J. Jenkins to the 49ers, a couple more, and good night, see you tomorrow. The tweets and Facebook statuses have been running rampant. Coaches from the couch get louder and people think they know how to run a professional sports team.

I digress.

Amidst these draft highlights on SportsCenter (my favorite show, according to my fiancée, yet I don’t deny it…) I notice that one of #SCTopTen is Walden’s blown save, succumbing to the Rays’ walk-off HR. A few days ago, Philip Humber of the ChiSox threw MLBs 21st perfect game—ever. Yes, this is a feat, but it brings up an interesting concept.


Professional actors (in addition to dancers, musicians, and countless other performance artists) are held to a very high standard. Performances are scrutinized meticulously (at base, to honor the words of the script/libretto), but with good reason—could you imagine heading to Broadway and hearing Annie sing, “The moon will come out tomorrow,” or Elphaba singing, “Defying Gravy”?

Actors say the correct words, often multiple times a week (sometimes twice a day) because it’s their job. We love what we do, we want to be a part of something bigger than us, and yes, we also love the applause. Well, maybe not everyone, but those are definite possibilities—if anything, the first reason applies—it’s their job.

Walden is a closer, as are Brian Wilson, Mariano Rivera, and Joe Nathan, but they all have losses on their records.

But it’s their job!

Now, hold on, put the stones down and let the dust settle.

Actors and athletes have one major thing in common—they’re human. Although some of them may be machines, freaks, or whatever you may call them—they’re human. Yes, athletes are conditioned to perform at a certain level of physical prowess, and the human body can only be driven so far. Actors, believe it or not, are also subject to a level of physical conditioning…and the human body can only be driven so far. Actors (and let’s talk non-musical/dancing for now), broadly speaking, exhibit much more mental and emotional prowess than physical exertion. Athletes, conversely exhibit much more physically, but their mental and emotional states also come into play.

Hammer cocked, point blank—who decided physical prowess needs a greater margin of error than mental/emotional prowess?

This is not about which one is better. I’m not asking about opinions, I’m asking about the standard to which both are held…and how they’re compensated.

Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, A-Rod, Jeter, Kobe, Peyton, LeBron, Tiger, the list goes on.

Idina Menzel, Don Cheadle, Jonathan Pryce, Kristin Chenoweth, Norbert Leo Butz, I’m sure you caught all the articles on them about their multi-million dollar signing bonus, extensions, or hour-long specials to announce where they’d be taking their talents.

Oh, wait…

Please comment and let me know what you think. I’m all about having an open, rational discussion, and I’m always down to learn more.


24 April 2012

Back in the saddle

There are several other tasks I should be doing right now, including writing, but right now I write for someone that hasn’t been written for in a too long of a period of time—myself. Yes, the latter half of that statement referred to Marlon in the third person, as does the former half of this one. And so, in conjunction with the first two sentences, Marlon has successfully referred to himself in the third person (wait for it…) three times.

If a Baker’s Week contains one more day than the regular 7-day week, then it’s taken me three Baker’s Weeks to look back on 2011 in a Year in Review/Recap Blog. By no means was this intentional, and I’ve been quite busy this month in my new position at work (which actually feels like THAT position sometimes), but I did realize something quite interesting about my unintended blog negligence—I’m much more excited to look to the future than I am to my past. Not to say 2011 was a bust, far from, but with the road ahead (although even more uncertain than some in years past), I’m positively anxious and sometimes downright giddy about my future (or should I say “our future”? Confused? Maybe this Recap Blog will help).

New Year’s Eve 2010. Fred’s in Huntington Beach with Pocahontas and the Padre. Midnight hits, a documented kiss, popped collars and high fives everywhere. Balloons fall, noisemakers squeal, and the goal of 11 margaritas before 2011 fell short. Not that I intended to start the year with a missed target, let’s just say the stakes weren’t high enough to really drive the progress. Taxi home, everyone’s safe, hello new year.

Winter Session at CSULB witnessed a few internal promotions at the Forty-Niner Shops, and my transition from Corporate Receptionist to Viral Marketing Assistant began. Facebook flipped from a time-wasting distraction to a foray into the endless field of Social Media. Twitter seeped into my life and my online pulse began to rise. By the time I had settled into a groove with social media, internal communications, and PR, the Spring semester had started and I had survived my last first day of school of my undergraduate career. Yes, almost 12 years since I graduated with the first senior class at Deer Valley High School, I was finally starting the home stretch towards the diploma of a finish line.

Spoiler: I graduated, kept my job on campus, turned 30, got engaged (below is the last pic we took before the proposal ;) , and went back to Fred’s in HB for New Year’s Eve.

Yeah, it finally happened. A long path that started with an encouraging spirit in 2005 that introduced me to Beth McBrien at Diablo Valley College led me through a series of life-changing semesters with some great people at DVC. Thanks to the financial support of the 9/11 GI Bill and the mental momentum from the ‘A’ Train experience at KCACTF, I headed down to 562 with two of the coolest people that transferred in 2009. May 27, 2011 I was conferred a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Directing. A few weeks before that I had received my class ring in the mail, something that I had wanted since high school, and with that it began to feel like a reality. I was the next to last person to walk at our College of the Arts ceremony.

My dear friend, Bethany Lynn Bunce was determined to be the last person to cross the stage, and I stuck by her to run interference and to usher late comers to go ahead of us. It wasn’t easy, but she succeeded in her goal, to her and her sorority sisters’ delight. As for me, with a couple of winks, waves, handshakes, and hugs from the faculty and staff (including President Alexander and Dr. Robinson, whom I was privileged to have dinner with earlier that week at the Graduating Veterans Dinner), I posed for the requisite photos and walked back into the screaming crowd, for our commencement was coming to a close.

For many of us, this was the hard-earned end to a major chapter in our life; for some, this was the teaser of an ending, having made the decision to walk early, having one last semester before full completion. For all of us, though, it was a time of celebration, and celebrate we did. There’s partial documentation in a video of me breaking a celebratory plate at George’s Greek Café at my victory lunch after commencement. Opah!


And that's where I left off when I started that post back on January 24th. That would explain the "three Baker's Weeks" statement.

It has since then, passed almost three months to the date, and I've decided to blow the eDust off my blog and jump back in the saddle. However, if you ride bareback (as many of my blogs are...straight out and raw), would you still call it, "back in the saddle" or would it just be, "getting back on"?

Whichever it should be, I'm back. Obviously, and if you're wondering how the rest of the recap blog would have gone, here were the little reminders I kept to make sure I covered everything:

  • Angels Baseball
  • Keeping the Job/corporate theatre
  • Fall Semester, moving on without going anywhere
  • right shoulder surgery
  • Two Words. En. Gaged.
  • Wrap it up!

Now that we’re all caught up… ;)

I’ve thought about coming back to finish the recap blog many times in the last few months, and the more I thought about it, especially when I thought about how it was starting to become a regular thing, you know, my annual recap blogs…I realized I had more exciting things to look forward to, than things to reflect on. This is in no way a dilution of 2011, absolutely not, I finally got that elusive B.A. in Theatre, turned 30, and got engaged. That’s a life turkey (Gobble, gobble, bowling friends), and I loooove turkey.

In a month, Sarah graduates with her B.A. in Theatre, and as we both dive into working as much as possible, we take these next months to transition out of college life with planning our wedding J

Everyday I usually think of something to blog about, and I’d be lying if I said I’d write one everyday, but I’ll shoot for 2 each week. You may remember my attempt at daily blogging last July, and that only lasted a couple weeks, but it was awesome while it was happening.

Until next post, good day, sir!

ps. the following image was the day Ortho released me from the full immobilizer brace I had to wear everyday the first month after surgery. The picture above (pre-proposal) was a couple days later :)