I just realized how silly I am…

Over the past few months I have cut back on my television watching habits.  I’ve picked up more books and magazines and even my knitting with my new free time.

I really only try to keep up to date on a few shows like The Big Bang Theory, AFV, Castle, Walking Dead, and  Ancient Aliens. And when their seasons return: So You Think You Can Dance, Breaking In, and Destination Truth.  Oh, and SMASH!! But that’s new, so I kinda forgot to mention that.  Everything else, if I catch it, cool, if not, oh well.  I felt that TV was wasting too much of my time.

But it just hit me while commenting on a friends Facebook post regarding the television show, Supernatural.  My idea of TV is a little silly.

My realization was this: While I think that a lot of shows aren’t my cup of tea, it could be an opportunity to not only watch and but to analyze the acting, the writing, the casting, the costume design and the direction of any show.  Whether or not it’s good, could be irrelevant.  I could figure out why it is or isn’t my cup of tea.  (Usually, it’s only tiny moments that I happen to catch while walking in and out of the room.)  As someone who would love to pay my rent and my bills with the paychecks I would earn from gigs, why would I not utilize the free time I have while watching TV for something a little more productive rather than just a passive voyeur of what’s on the screen?

This then brings me to other contradictory quirks I have.

Let’s take pictures.

As someone who loves to be on stage and in doing so, have people watch, why can’t I get past my aversion to having my picture taken? There are special times when I power through my issue, such as for the Fatty Affair event.  I think it’s because feel like moments are meant to be fleeting.  And the moments that people do want to capture are what have passed and so they try to recreate them and thus making it less true.  I don’t mind the candid shots.  Of course, I always have the most horrid looks on my face when these happen.

Speaking of horrid.

I enjoy going to the theatre and going to the movies as well as watching movies at home.  The thing that these activities share is that the lights get turned down so the focus goes to the stage or screen.  The original storytellers were cavemen.  They told recreated the events of the day’s hunt and relayed it to the clan crowded around the fire.  There’s something in our ancient self that still enjoys the shared experience of listening to a story together.   I love it.  When it comes to scary movies, they are totally my faves!  Hands down, no doubt.  When the lights come back up, I can logically sort out in my melon all the things about the film or show that make it impossible to be true.  But at night when it comes time to go to bed and be alone with my thoughts, my imagination, the thing that helps to transport me to different places and times on stage, begins it’s process of putting me in a new place with influences of what was recently watched.  Because I refuse to try and control my imagination, I do believe that there are things that go bump in the night.

There are times when I feel like my imagination is my biggest asset.  It helps me to create or recreate worlds and people.  Conversely, it sometimes feels like my imagination is my biggest fault.  Sometimes, I feel like I can’t leave those worlds, or when ideas arise, they are overwhelming when I know that they can be pared down and streamlined.

There’s a quote that comes to mind.  It’s from Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed” that says, “Everything is true.  God’s an astronaut.  Oz is over the rainbow.  And Midian is where the monsters live.”

Have you ever noticed contradictory things about yourself?   Please feel free to share your contradictions or not.

 

Billy + Oscar = ♥

I love the Oscars.

Not as much as I love the Tonys! But I do love the Oscars.

I have watched the telecast every single year since I’ve been in the double digit age range.    Now as to whether or not I can remember any of it, HA!

There have been years where the show was so boring and I just wished that they would just drop event time to a single hour.  But, there have also been years when I didn’t want the Best Picture category to come up.  A lot of it had to do with the host.  Last year, I think was the James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-host nightmare.  It felt awkward and kinda messy.  But Hugh Jackman or Jon Stewart did really respectable jobs.  But the king will probably always be Billy Crystal.

While I was at the gym, Piers Morgan was on one of the tv’s and he was interviewing a columnist for EW magazine and the interviewee said that there were some doubts as to whether Billy C would be able to do it.  Wait…WHAT?  He went on to say it would be the equivalent of putting Willy Mayes (or some baseball player that I am just naming at random) back in the game after 20 years of not playing.   I call shenanigans!!  Of course BC is gonna be fab, he will always be fab!  He’s Billy Frakin’ Crystal.

This year, I don’t have any real preference as to who wins with one exception.  Octavia Spencer.  I’d always seen her in tiny bit parts and loved her.  Now that she’s had the opportunity to shine, I hope she is rewarded for all the little nuances that are in her performance in “The Help.”

If you haven’t seen it, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

My friends and I used to have games and stuff for awards shows.  Sadly now that I work on Sundays, I don’t have time to come up with stuff.  I know the logical answer to that is plan ahead and do it early.  I know and I hear you, but I just space out and forget that it is even happening.

So as I watch the show this year, I will probably harbor a tiny chip on my shoulder with the knowledge that just to get nominations, the studios spend approximately $100 million in media blitzes.  With numerous studios spending that much on this little award, I just wonder how much good that would do if they invest even half of that into public education or building homeless shelters that are open all year round and not just in the winter.   I understand that it’s just Hollywood.  But that’s the point

It’s JUST Hollywood.  It’s great that they make a film about bullying and try to raise awareness like that.  But it’s a business strategy as well.  Make a movie about a problem that’s plaguing youth or society and millions of people around the world will pay money to see it and a big portion of that money will go into the producer’s pocket.  Yeah, s/he might be philanthropic and donate to charities or whatnot.  But there’s also, maybe not.

So Billy, even before you are on that stage, I shall raise a glass to you after a long day’s work and have every confidence that this year’s Oscar show will be golden.

 

I want a garden…

When we first moved into the current apartment we have, it was chosen based on two or three things.  After seeing both available spaces, the first thing we loved was that it was the first floor. Then we were told there’s no air conditioning in the units.  Ugh!  The great thing about the downstairs space was there are a lot of doors and it got a ton of light but no direct sunshine, so those hot summer days would be bearable.  Downstairs it shall be!

I started working at the nursery about 5 months after the move.  Now, after having been there for some time, I have the urge to have my own garden to pull fresh veggies and herbs from.  But the problem is vegetables and herbs need sunlight to grow.  NOOOoooo….!!!

So when I began looking into the things that only need bright light and not direct sunshine, there are only 5 or 6 that I would want to use.  So that left me with my hopes crushed.  Then I saw this super cool picture in the current issue of Fine Gardening Magazine

Image via culinate.com This functioning truck also functions as a garden bed!!

While I do what I can to decrease the size of my carbon footprint, I am too scattered to use my bike to get everywhere, like work, on time.   My car has been a true blessing, (THANK YOU TOMMY-O!!!) to get me to places that I would still be taking the bus to otherwise.

Here’s a little history. In Brooklyn, early 2009, Ian Cheney debuted the beauty pictured above as a solution to the problem of not having a space to grow fresh food in the crowded city.  Nowadays the truck is used to teach people that you can grow food nearly anywhere and the benefits of doing so.

The more I think about this concept and my craving for having my own little garden makes me want to try and see if I can grow anything greenhouse style in my Rav4!  I super rarely have more than one passenger in my car, so I have a good chunk of space to plant some of my fave veggies and herbs!

Can you imagine??  I would save money on my grocery bill, not contribute to pollution by the purchasing of foods driven from who knows where, eat food that truly doesn’t have pesticides (because there’s not a large likelihood of pests getting into the car), and it’d just be damn cool!

Figuring out the logistics of how to get my car adjusted is going to take a while because I want to have the garden bed tilted so that when I water my car (hahaha!) the excess H2O will drain out of the back door.  Also, the car has a carpeted “trunk” area, so not only do I have to make sure that’s going to be covered with a plastic bedding liner, I also have to pull out the crowbar and all that type of stuff and have it put somewhere easily accessible.    So as you can see there are still a lot of things to figure out, but I may see if Yamagami’s would be willing to sponsor such a project and I can call it the Yamagami’s Mobile Garden.  Or maybe not.  We’ll have to see.

Do you have a truck?   Check out Truck Farm and maybe you can become a part of their fleet.

What’s the weirdest container  you’ve planted in or wanted to use as a planter?  How’d it turn out?  Leave a comment below and let’s trade stories!

 

 

Give a Buck About Art…Feb. ArtWalk Part 2

…FINALLY!!!

After this entry, I come to one of the coolest stops in the show.

Tim Craighead

At the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, I was fascinated with many of the pieces in both of the exhibits.  I don’t know what it is that draws me into “Dos Mundos” the works of Tim Craighead, but I feel a sense of disorientation.  Not in any sense where I feel lost, or scattered or don’t know where to focus my attention, but more like I am swimming in main color and have to turn to look at each of the images on the canvas.  That being said, I was so fixated on the constant presence of some of the symbols on his works, that I was sure that they had to have some importance to the painter. So I found a liaison and asked what the significance of these images were since they were repeated in so many of the pieces represented in the show.  Now, I don’t want to sound ungrateful that the man tried hard to explain something not at all related to my question, but I would have preferred him to say “I don’t know.”  Instead, he stood there stating the obvious for 15 minutes and I didn’t want to be rude and just walk away.  Because of my bad timing, I never got back to the MACLA center for the performance.  Crap!

Regardless, I continued to the other side of the museum and found “One Thing Leads to Another.”  While Craighead’s works played with the organic and inorganic images, the works in the “One Thing” exhibit are repetitive, calculated, and cold, but no less mesmerizing.

What I really liked about the table was that it shows this seemingly vast amount of work, but all the pieces only required a pencil, a straight-edge, and paper.  Oh, and 24 hours.  The idea of massive amounts of Art in a short amount of time is so appealing to me.

One of the last images I saw while leaving was:

a stunning piece all done by hand and the small shifts make the work vibrate with energy. It’s truly lovely when you can see it up close.

I headed over to the Art Boutiki because I usually see some cool stuff there too and I was not disappointed.  I was surprised that the band playing wasn’t the usual rock or punk garage band.  Instead it was a jazz ensemble called Grooveyard Shift.  Upon asking the woman behind the beverage counter the band’s name, she asked if I’d be interested in a cd.  I tell her sure and give her a few bucks for it.  As they are wrapping up their last number, the woman looks over at me and says “they’re good, huh?”  I say, “they are very talented.”  Proudly, she kind of nods and says”two of them are my sons.”  She was so happy.  It was really cute.  And unlike the typical parent telling their child they are good at everything they do, this band was really good.  It’s a refreshing change of pace to hear something that doesn’t have a hard rock guitar or screaming singer.

As I was looking over the comic books on the tables, I noticed that some of the Art Work on the walls were these awesome dioramas of really unique ideas. Sadly, these pictures do not do them justice.   I guess you are going to have to stop by the store and see them.

One of the comic books that was out promoting itself was one called “Aztec of the City.”  I popped open the book and flipped through a few of the pages to look at the art work.  It’s well drawn and all, but when I read the first two pages, I felt myself rolling my eyes.  I know the cover should have given me an idea of what to expect, but silly me, I wasn’t paying that much attention to it.  I find it “boring” to find yet one more story where the Latino hero, has to mention that he did time in jail and no one came to see him and how hard it was to survive.  It’s a story that’s used too often, and yeah, I get bored with it.  For once, I just want to see someone kick ass because of injustice that’s been witnessed rather than having had some horrible incident drive them to it, like Batman watching his parents get killed.   Next!  That’s all I have to say about this comic.  Sorry Aztec writers.

My last stop of the night was at Higher Fire.  I watched a lady make her ceramic bowl and actually cut it off the hunk of clay she was using.  The provocative and funny banter between her and the two fellow pot makers made me want to sign up for a class just to be in on the fun.

On the way back to the car, I snapped this pic because I thought it was really funny and the worker was totally up for it.  So a big thank you for posing, Mr. City Worker Guy!

All in all, it was a wonderful night and in two weeks, I get to do it again.  The only down side is that Cinequest will be happening that time too, so parking is going to SU-UCK!!

They Raks my world…

Tammy Johnson and Etang Inyang of YourBodyRaks.com

Thursday night, I took a little drive up to Oakland for the launch party of Your Body Raks.  It was important to me to support them because they are not only following a dream, but they are using that dream to create a better world.  That is something that I would also love to do.  I am very excited for them and I have to tell you, dear reader, about it.

Raks Africa is comprised of two ladies, Tammy Johnson and Etang Inyang.  They are an award winning belly dance duo that are based out of Oakland, CA.

When I first became aware of them, I was blown away.  I was just like everyone else who thought that belly dancers were wispy women who wore sheer genie pants and bras and veils all the while shaking themselves around the room attempting to entice the eyes of men.   While every bit as beautiful as the stereotypical belly dancer, these stunning women have hearts and souls that match.  In July of 2010, I was sitting in the audience of an event called Big Moves – Go Big or Go Home.  The whole night was about shattering the stereotypes that dancers were all thin and the variety of styles in the show was fantastic to see.  I think what drew me in to Raks Africa’s performance, which was my favorite,  was their very visible joy and love of dance.

I became a fan instantly.

Being in the performing arts, I am well aware of the pressures put on everyone, but women especially, that one must be super thin or super beautiful in order to become something in this industry.  We are led to believe the airbrushed pictures of models are what we are supposed to strive to be like.  That if we are even the slightest bit fat, then we are automatically hideous or unlovable or unmarketable.

But before me, these two fabulous women were shaking and shimmying and having a ball, comfortable in their own skin and proud of their bodies.  While I may not be trained in belly dance, I can tell when people have dance training and these ladies have it!

The goal of Your Body Raks is combat the constant body image bullying that is on display everywhere you look.  The use of belly dance to build confidence in women and girls of every size, color, or background mixed with a safe environment to learn self acceptance and love will have an incredible positive impact on the individual.

I HIGHLY encourage you all to check out YourBodyRaks.com and look at the videos and learn about Tammy and Etang.  And if you are lucky enough to be in the Oakland area, take a class!

These women are such an inspiration for what they are doing, and I take my hat off to them and wish them the absolute best I possibly can wish for anyone.  I can’t even say aloud without choking up, how important I think their work is.

Rak on, ladies!!!

With love,

Your biggest cheerleader!!

 

Give a Buck about Art…Feb. ArtWalk Part 1

The last three weeks have been a wonderful change of pace with some great theatre and meet-ups with friends and getting out and just chatting people up.  I think one of the most wonderful things was the return of the South First Fridays that happens in downtown San Jose.  I started out the night outside of Caffe´ Frascati because it was just too crowded inside to watch a young opera singer serenade the patrons inside.  I always have every intention of being inside for one of these events, but I am always too late.  And I don’t want to be the creepy guy that’s hanging about for too long, you know?

Next, just outside of Anno Domini, I came across this lovely performer from Cirque du Soleil.  She was a hoot! So charming and funny, and made sure that I had her shoes in the shot.  She had to be standing at 8 feet tall or so thanks to small stilts that she was balancing on.  What was very interesting was that when I asked if I could take her picture, she held her pose so well, and after she said she was always in a constant state of motion because the stilts weren’t wide enough to relax on.  The jewel colors of the dress are lovely and in her right hand is a small cluster of feathers (peacock maybe?) but from the picture it looks to me like she was holding the sting to the balloon that was painted onto the wall.

After saying goodbye and wishing her some foot relief, I made it inside Anno Domini and I perused the Art books that are in the main lobby area.  After taking a peek at those, I headed for the N’TENCE exhibit to see what I could be inspired by.  I have to admit that when I first entered the gallery all I saw were the 18 – 20 orange tents and was a wee bit disappointed.  It was so crowded in the little space that I couldn’t find the placard to see what this installation was called.  Maybe it would give me a clue as to what the Artist had in mind when putting this together.  After a brief sweep, I decided that I just wasn’t supposed to know about it.  One of the things that did catch my eye was a small hot pink log cabin house with little flowers on the outside and a red lightbulb inside.  I think the overly feminizing of something so necessary, like home, was a jab at some people’s old fashion sensibilities that the home is a woman’s domain.  But something about this piece was so flamboyant that I wonder if it was a “reclaiming” of the home in a sense.  Because there was a sign asking for pictures not to be taken, I don’t have anything to show from this venue.  After passing the cute house, I came up to some crudely drawn cartoon panels.  Most of them were a man and woman and various interactions.  One was of the woman drowning and saying “Save me!” to which the man standing next to her says “No.”  It’s a tough group of pictures to sift through because most of them are negative in tone, so it’s a bit of a downer.  There is an occasionally funny drawing mixed in, but not many.  Once I was almost through the gallery, I saw that the live band, The Comfort Slacks were getting ready to start.  I waited for about 10 minutes, but I think they were having technical difficulties, so I moved on.  I did go to their page on Facebook out of curiosity and found that I like their music.  It reminds me of Atari 2600 games music.

Usually, I only check out the museums because I think it’s awkward going into the food places to just check out the Art while people are eating all around me.  What drew me into Eulipia was the frenetic movement of the man playing the upright bass working his fingers up and down the frets so fast I thought he was trying to start a fire!  He handed off the improv to the drummer who was alright. It seemed like his each of his riffs were done one too many times. But it could totally be just me because I have a thing about repetition and predicability.  Last was the guitarist.  He was grooving and I found it very bizarre that the drummer was more interesting during the guitar solo than during his own.  I don’t know if maybe he was inspired by the guitarist, but in any case he definitely redeemed himself.  I hung around for two songs, but the smell of delicious over priced food was beginning to make my mouth water.

Jazz Trio "Vandivier"

Once I headed out of Eulipia, I walked to the MACLA building.  Little did I know, but there was a performance piece inside.  The performance time had just passed, but there was going to be another in 45 minutes, so I decided to hustle over to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. One of the first things I encountered while there was a large quilt hanging outside the bathrooms that to me looked like something other than a poppy.  And I work in a nursery so I am used to seeing them.  I mean abstractly, I supposed I can see it being a poppy, but not without a little help.  When I look at it, I see the AIDS ribbon, but I guess we are all influenced by our lives and experiences.

  Regardless, it’s a beautiful piece of work.  In addition to this work hanging in their main lobby, their gift shop had some wonderful items as well.  One of my favorite things was a set of DPN or Double Pointed Needles for my non-knitting peoples.  I loved that they were called “Fearless Knitting” Needles.  There was pyrographically etched images on them and the needles were silky smooth, even with the design.  One would think that the yarns would snag on these but they were slick as can be.   I took a picture of them, but my camera would not focus on the design.  But on my other favorite piece in the gift shop, I had no trouble.

Talk about fancy water!

Inside the room that I believe hosts classes, I came across this cool kimono inspired jacket.  I loved the pattern shown here. It not only gave it interest by color and pattern, but it also had a really cool texturizing feature as well.  I just wanted to tear it off the wall and take a closer look at it.

In the corridor leading to this room there is a mini-grouping called Collecting California.  While the works are very nice in their colors and patterns, there was one that made me want to learn the art of quilting right then and there.  The piece is called “On The Edge II” by Linda Gass.  Here is the image from the museum website, with my photo next to it, so you can see why I loved it so.

It looks like rivers and canyons and the topography of the piece just makes me want to trace all the green  veins and follow them like a maze.

As you can see I spent A LOT of time in this space. And there was still one more collection to see!!

The “Invisible Lineage” was a mixed bag of knitting, crochet, weaving, and macrame.  The pieces were lovely, but true to my pickiness, I found one that I thought could have been improved upon.  It was a piece of knitting done on at least  size 12 needles or larger.  It was a rectangular piece about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  The yarn used was (I believe) a heather gray, and the cross in the center was a thicker yarn with an addition of a single metallic thread in the cross section only.  My instinct said, “She should have went bolder and used a ton more of that metallic for the cross.”  Unless you look REALLY closely, you don’t see the metallic in it.

When I rounded the corner, I was treated to some sublime and delicate lacework. It’s incredibly well done.  I heard one lady say to her friend that she would have reinforced the edges to make it bolder, but I thought to myself “then that would ruin the delicate look of the piece.”  But then I thought of the cross and told myself to “shut your face.”

So exit the Quilts and Textiles Museum, I did.

 

At the Metro offices, they had an exhibit called Live. Local. Loud.  There were about 25-30 photos of local performances.  I liked how vibrant the images were.  The photographers almost seemed to capture the energy of the subject.  And I had camera envy.  A lot of it…