Thursday, December 25, 2008

Literary Christmas

I hope the holiday season is filling you with joy and love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Literary Jane

Writer Jane Smiley said almost all I wanted to say about Obama's pick of Rick Warren to provide the invocation at the Inauguration. Read here.

Jane said almost all. I'd like to add: Prop 8 really showed me that I should fight like heck. Because lawd knows Warren (and his ilk) will fight like heck against me. At the end of the day, however, I'll go ahead and offer water and cookies to anyone who wants to disagree with me. Really.

Literary Play

I had to look twice when I saw the headline: P.U.-Litzer Prize. This play on the Pulitzer Prize is designated for "stinky media coverage." Read here. I thought it was hilarious.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Literary Burial


You know what lifted my spirits? (And thanks to all of you for your kind comments on my last post. We can all wallow together.) Jeff Walsh sent me this website--and I love it! There's nothing like a writer turning lemons into lemonade.

It's a website about an author burying her book. It's hilarious. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Literary Depression

Is anyone else depressed? I feel depressed, so depressed, in fact, that I'm not writing creatively. I'm not writing my new novel or developing my collection of short stories. Why bother? The publishing industry is in the dumps. Houghton Mifflin stated that they're not going to acquire any new projects. Some really good writers I know haven't sold their book projects--it doesn't look like it's going to happen either.

I'm depressed over Prop 8, particularly because so much of the money to fuel it came from churches. I am a proponent of religion. I actually think it can do some good for many. I have pushed the importance of spirituality as a form of self-care, particularly for gay men. I participated in a research study that found that young gay men with spiritual/religious lives are less likely to hurt themselves. Indeed, I've always thought that young gay men who still manage to believe in God when they come from churches that demean them, have a kind of spiritual strength that no one can muster.

Anyone who has read both my novels, can see that my characters have spiritual lives. It becomes hard for me to push Faith when churches still use their influence to destroy lives.

Now, I said I haven't been writing creatively. However, I have been journaling, just getting some of my thoughts and emotions out is a great form of therapy, I believe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Literary Smoke

I was supposed to run the Pasadena Marathon last Sunday. It was canceled due to poor air equality caused by the fires. I was disappointed. I'd trained for months, changing my lifestyle to eventually run the marathon.

I got an e-mail at 4am, saying the race wasn't going to happen. I was disappointed. Then I remembered the people who lost their homes. Their loss must be indescribable.

I remember when fires raged throughout Griffith Park, an area real close to me. I could smell the burning trees. What's burning now is different. What's in the air is not the scent of burning trees or brush. It's the odor of burning couches, clothes, photo albums, and toys.

The air is drenched with this.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Literary Props

Prop 8 had spurred a number of protests. The homosexuals (and quite a few of our straight allies) showed up in the thousands in various Los Angeles locales. I ended up hanging out with many homosexuals (and quite a few straight allies) protesting Prop 8 in other ways.

On Thursday, when protesters blocked Westwood, I went to the Madonna concert at Dodger Stadium. The Material Girl herself yelled into the audience, "If we can elect a black president, we can have gay marriage!" She got cheers (and some boos).

On Saturday, when protesters marched in Silverlake, I drove to Palm Springs to support a bastion of gay free speech, the Lambda Literary Foundation. They hada a fundraiser headed up by board president Chris Rice. It was held in the home of his mother Anne Rice. (She's got quite the doll collection!)

Comedian Bruce Vilanch spoke. He referred to the Rice home as "the house that sucking built." We laughed at the reference to the author's famous Vampire novels. What I wasn't prepared for was Mr. Vilanch's call for unity in our diverse gay community. He said gay outlaws shouldn't fight with mainstream queens. Even though he didn't mention it, we knew he meant the misdirected anger being targeted at African Americans who are being maligned with the passing of Prop 8.

As a man who helped coordinate town halls and press conferences to educate the Asian American community on gay marriage, I was surprised. I didn't think it would get to this! From the city to the desert, from big stadiums to private homes, from the voting booths to the streets, discussing gay marriage is all the rage.

For my part, I am angry! But I'm trying to focus on the good. There was a time when most Californians were overwhelmingly against gay marriage. There is still a majority, but the majority is shrinking. Prop 22, which made it impossible for California to recognize same sex marriage from another state, won by 22 points. Prop 8 passed by only a 5 point margin. We are making inroads!


Below is a picture of Charles Flowers, the Executive Director Lambda. He sits in front of some of Ms. Rice's dolls.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Literary Election


This is a new era in more ways than one. Trust me, this time in history will be written about and written about and written about over and over and over again. Whole books will be spawned from this momentous day!
Alice Walker writes a letter to our new president. Read here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Literary "Working"


Author Studs Terkel died. Wow. His work in Oral History was amazing. I was first introduced to his seminal book "Working" on PBS. It was a dramatization of his interviews done with the country's working folk--from waitress to prostitute. In college, I worked on the stage crew of a musical based on "Working." Thanks, Mr. Terkel, for all of the work you did. Read more here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Literary Remnant

Earlier this week, I attended the "Fifth Intentional Conversation at The Cathedral" sponsored by the Saving Remnant Society. It was a gathering of local actors, writers, visual artists to ponder the theme, Artist as Storyteller: Our Art as Personal, Cultural or Global Narrative.

It was invigorating to have this conversation, particularly at The Cathedral?!?!? It was refreshing that the Catholic Church would have an event for artists--of varying backgrounds, religions, and creeds--to talk about how our work fit into the global scheme of things.

Joe, Trey, and Jami were my lunch buddies above.

At this meeting, I also discovered that I won't melt when on hallowed ground.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Literary Collection of Shorts

I'm putting the novel away at this time. It's...it's...making my head hurt. I'm looking at my short story collection. Currently, I have five stories. Maybe another five to go? I'm turning to the short story because, well, I want to finish stories within a reasonable period of time.

My novel was depressing me. I couldn't see an end in sight. Ugh.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literary Filipinotown


PANEL DISCUSSION ON
GROWING UP IN HISTORIC FILIPINOTOWN

Saturday, October 18, 2008
4:00pm - 7:00pm

Remy's Art Gallery
2126 West Temple Street near Alvarado
Los Angeles (Street parking only)

Free and Open to the public.
Due to limited space, RSVP is requested.
(310) 514-9139 or email

Remy's Gallery is the same venue of the traveling photo
exhibit, Singgalot: The Ties That Bind which is ongoing.
This Smithsonian-sponsored exhibit on Filipinos in
America ends on Sunday, October 26 and people who will
attend the panel discussions will also have a chance to
view the Exhibit.

Panelists include authors Noel Alumit, Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier
and Carina Monica Montoya, also known as Carina Forsythe, who
will autograph their books during the event. The panelists will share their memories of life in the area, their challenges growing up in an
enclave and their own visions of the future of Historic
Filipinotown.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Literary Sheparding


Wow. I can't believe it's been ten years since Matthew Shepard was killed. See more here. His death inspired some writing for me back in the day. I even allude to it in my last novel.

Peace to his spirit and his family. Bravo to Judy Shepard for doing remarkable work in hate crime legislation in memory of her son.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Literary Elitism


You see this woman on the left? Her name is Eleonor Clift. She was married to Brooks Clift, Montgomery Clifts brother. This woman was Montgomery Clift's sister in law!

BUT we probably best know her for her work in journalism. She wrote this aritlce here. The article talks about how the McCain camp might use the strategy of attacking Obama by calling him elite.

Though McCain comes from military royalty and married an heiress, Obama is the elite one. What a fine message to send to all of the men and women of color in America. God forbid you go to school and get an education, because you might be seen as uppity by white people.

I find this interesting. Republicans who aren't for Equal Opportunity Programs and believes that minorities need to work harder without relying on goverment programs. However, when someone like Obama comes along, they don't like it.

This whole things screams of racism. I'm surprised that no one isn't making more of a stink about this.

In the mean time, it's okay to have an idiot and a fake like Sarah Palin. Rachel Maddow hits the nail on the proverbial head.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Literary Insularity

According to Sweden, we're not worldly enough. American writers are too "insular," said a spokesperson for the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, there is some truth to this. I mean, we are known to think only of ourselves and read ourselves. See articel here.

I'd been involved in conversations about our bad reading habits when it comes to foreign literature. Only 3 percent of books we get in America are translated--this leads us to reading works written only English. We don't get a lot of translations for books originally written in French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Japanese, etc.

What's worse is that translated works rarely get reviewed because critics don't know if they're reviewing a great book with a bad translation or vice versa.

For my part, I'm reading a book that was originally written in Burmese. Cool, huh?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Literary McCain

Lest you think I'm a left-wing liberal--which I am--I'd like to say that when it comes to books, I am truly bipartisan.

I found this article truly interesting. It's by the editor of McCain's books. He gives an idea of the kind of literary mind that this Republican possesses. Click here.

I truly think a President of the United States needs to be a published author. All of the presidents, except for Dubya, had written books. What writing a book can do is show focused attention and important critical thinking skills. Ur, something that our current president had been unable to do.

Oh, and if Ms. Palin still has her eye on the White House, I'd suggest she get out the paper and pen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Literary Defaming

In keeping with my last post, I wanted to share this message that Liz Dwyer sent me. Liz is an amazing writer and she can be read here.

The dedication for Letters to Montgomery Clift says: This book is dedicated to those who have Disappeared.

Liz, via Facebook, told me this:

I was in the library on Santa Monica today and saw "Letters to Montgomery Clift" on the shelf. Interestingly enough, someone scribbled a little comment on your dedication page. There was an arrow after "Disappeared" and at the end of the arrow was written, "Due to the policies of right-wing dictators."

I don't believe in defaming books, but I had to smile.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Literary Dictatorhip


In my first novel Letterst to Montgomery Clift I wrote about how the Marcos dictatorship in The Philippines ruined the lives of many. In my research, I noted how the Marcos regime didn't take too well to journalists who wrote bad things about them. Those journalists, like the father in the novel, "disappeared."

So, then it bugged me to read reports of how the John and Sarah campaign refused to let the media interview Palin until the press is "deferential" to her. They won't even let the media talk to Sarah Palin, only take pretty pictures. (Of course, we know why they won't let them talk to Palin: she can't say anything she doesn't know anything about, like the economy, international affairs, the War.) Read here.

I kept thinking that what they're doing is restricting free speech! They're acting like...like...dictators.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Literary Skull

This is why I love indie publishers. This is from Soft Skull Press...

Tim Wise's latest opinion piece: This is Your Nation on White Privilege By Tim Wise 9/13/08 For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

--White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
--White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
--White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
--White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”
--White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
--White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
--White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
--White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”
--White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
--White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
--White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
--White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.
--And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain. White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of Speaking Treason Fluently, publishing this month, also by Soft Skull.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Literary Shock

What?!?!?!?! David Foster Wallace is dead? He hanged himself? Oh, what goes through the minds of writers....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Literary Marshall

Here I am as a goofy student at Marshall High School, around 1985. (Ur, I'm the one in the middle.) Those glasses aren't prescription. I thought people with glasses looked kewl. So, I bought some on Melrose.

Yes, I had big hair--that's what a perm will do.

I didn't know that I was a writer then. I knew I was creative, but words were for other people. I was a stage guy.

I was intimidated by writing, scared of it really. I'm glad I faced my fears.

Looking at this picture made me feel sad. This was waaaay before the twin towers fell. In a way, it was really a more innocent time.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Literary Community Making

2008 Asian American Poetry and Writing (AAPW) and the Japanese American National are proud and excited to offer community-based creative writing workshops for aspiring and emerging writers. Our goal is to create affordable and culturally sensitive classes that allows writers the space to explore craft and theme in their work.

When:
October 4, 2008 - November 8, 2008 (Saturday mornings and afternoons)

Where:
Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cost:
$150 for six sessions. $125 for JANM members (Minimum 5 participants, maximum 12). To sign up for a class please go to http://www.aapw-la.org/workshop.php. Pre-registration is required.

Courses:

1. Stories Make us Real (1-3pm)
Introduction to Fiction with Noel Alumit

In this introductory class, we will read stories and then write our own. What are the elements of narrative? How do we utilize character, point of view, dialogue, plot, setting and tone? Through close reading and discussion, we will examine how others have created powerful fiction. We'll also workshop our own writing, helping each other to dig deeper and unearth the core of our stories and in the process--ourselves.

Noel Alumit's first novel "Letters to Montgomery Clift," has received many awards including the Stonewall Book Award (American Library Association), Violet Quill Award (Insight Out Books), the Global Filipino Literary Award (Our Own Voice), and the Gold Seal (ForeWord Magazine). He has also been nominated for the PEN Center USA West Literary award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Asian American Literary Award. His second novel "Talking o the Moon" was published in 2007 and went on to become a Los Angeles Times Bestseller. He also teaches for UCLA Extension. He blogs at www.thelastnoel.blogspot.com

2. The World is a Poem (11am – 1pm)
Introduction to Poetry with Neil Aitken

There are moments in our lives that transform us or change the way we view the world around us. Something we see or feel moves us beyond where we've been. Often it's love or loss, the stories of how we got here or where we are going, or maybe just the way that something we've always taken as ordinary reveals itself as extraordinary or beautiful. What makes a poem a poem? How do we set down our thoughts and emotions in a more powerful way? This course will cover essential poetcraft including: imagery and figurative language, rhythm and sound, line and form, and lyric and narrative styles. Some discussion of poetry journals and publishing will also be provided.

Neil Aitken is the author of The Lost Country of Sight which won the 2007 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and is due out from Anhinga Press in November 2008. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside and is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at USC. More information about Neil can be found on his website: www.neil-aitken.com

3. Claiming Your Voice (11am – 1pm)
A memoir/personal writing class with Naomi Hirahara

Have you always wanted to write, but are not sure quite how to put your thoughts and experiences on paper? How do you find your written "voice" and how do you nurture and sustain it? Instruction will include writing exercises that allow students to take creative risks in a safe and encouraging environment. Participants will learn how to remove obstacles that keep them from being truly free in their writing. Basic craft skills will also be covered.

* Please note: Naomi's class will run from Oct 4 - Nov 15 with Oct 25 off

Award-winning writer and former Rafu Shimpo editor Naomi Hirahara is a Los Angeles literary treasure. She is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which includes Summer of the Big Bachi, Gasa-Gasa Girl, and Snakeskin Shamisen. Her website is www.naomihirahara.com

4. Lights, Camera, Write (1pm – 3 pm)
Introduction to Screenwriting with Koji Steven Sakai

For the cinephile who has the next great American Film within them, this six-week course will introduce you to the craft of screenwriting, where students will focus on story structure, scene development and dialogue. From plot-driven action to independent drama, students will write and workshop short scenes, basic outlines and short treatments.

Koji Steven Sakai is a graduate from USC's Masters of Professional Writing program. He co-wrote, Haunted Highway, which was directed by Junichi Suzuki and distributed by Lions Gate DVD. He has held several fellowships, starting with the most recent, which include: Film Independent's Project: Involve (2007), Visual Communication's Armed With a Camera (2006), and Screenwriting Expo 4 New Visions Fellowship award (2005). When he isnt' fighting crime or making movies, he is the Manager of Public Programs at the Japanese American National Museum.

To sign up for a class please go to http://www.aapw-la.org/workshop.php.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Literary Band




In my quest to do things I'd never done before, I did something that I thought I'd never do: sing in a band! Skylight Bookstore put together a band called "Skylight Juice." SJ would make their command performance at the opening of "1814," an extension of the store.

I sang "background vocals." It was a kind title for a guy who stood in the back and mostly clapped along. Here's proof.


If you want to see more about the opening and more of Skylight Juice perform, click here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Literary Convention



I don't know about you, but I cried when Mr. Obama accepted the nomination tonight. CRIED! There was so much hope in his speech, so much. When he mentioned proper treatment of gay and lesbians, I teared up. When he talked about the proper treatment of immigrants, I cupped my mouth to stifle a cry. (Ur, I was driving in my car and concerned that I would be pulled over for reckless crying)

His speech was so well written, so well delivered. I knew he was a good writer when I read his book, but this speech (and all the other writers who put in their two cents, I'm sure) was amaaaaaaaaaazing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Literary Circumcision

Not everything I did in Mexico was vacation. I did have to write to earn my keep. Part of my going to the International AIDS Conference was to cover it for the Global Voice, the official publication of the conference, and to write something for IN Los Angeles Magazine.

I was given two hours to write an 800 word article. I was thrown into the manic buzz of the press room (see below). Journalists from all over the world frantically tried to get the jumbled words to flow into some cohesive article.

My story was on "Male Circumcision: To Cut or Not To Cut." I went to a panel discussion on circumcision and how it can reduce HIV infection. I wrote another article on the reduction of stigma and homophobia for IN Los Angeles.Here's a picture of me typing away.

Check out one of the articles that I wrote Here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Literary Pyramids


I think inspiration is a wonderful thing. While in Mexico, I decided to visit pyramids in Teotihuacan. I did something that I think might have been the literary highlight of my year.
video
I took my handy-dandy camera and made this...

A British man took this photo of me. His family was quite impressed that I was working on my novel on a pyramid! Who can say that?
video

I must confess: I was quite proud of myself.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Literary Grace


Check out this essay by Grace Talusan here. It mentions the passing of Miss Philippines 1980 who was a finalist in the Miss Universe Pageant. I'd written about Miss Philippines in my solo show "Master of the (miss) Universe." What is a common theme in my show and the essay that Grace wrote was the need for familiar faces, especially on TV.
Um, I'm actually quite sad at hearing the news of the death of Miss Philippines Chat Silayan. She probably didn't know it, but she inspired Filipino kids in America like Grace and myself.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Literary Frida

I went to see Frida Kahlo's house. It just one of those things you must do in Mexico City. For me, there is no other Mexican icon like Frida. I didn't even bother with seeing the movie about her life because I felt that her presence could never be captured in a medium like film.
I couldn't show you pictures of the inside of the house. Photos were not allowed. So, here's the outsie landscape. The home was filled with books, pictures, furniture that belonged to Frida. It was a literal shrine to her life. I was most impressed with a letter that Poet Pablo Neruda wrote to Miss K.

Here I am, all angsted out at walking in the home where Frida and Deigo once made love.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Literary Mexico

I'd been in Mexico for a week now. And loving it. I can't believe that I'd never been here before. I first visited the Historic District. This museum is called Collegio de San Ildefonso. It's the place where Frida Kahlo first saw Diego Rivera painting. You can see the murals behind the columns.
This is a painting on the ceiling of San Ildefonso. It's of Cortes and La Malinche. She apparently became a mistress to Cortes and helped him conquer Mexico. She's seen to some as a traitor to her people.

With the conquering of Mexico, old Aztec temples were torn down and replaced by ornate churches like this one. The city recognizes this horrible deed and has windows outside of the cathedral showing the holy land under this holy land.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Literary Aztec

The Aztec culture boasted fine music and literature. I'll have the opportunity to learn about their culture as I go to Mexico. My job is sending me there for a few weeks. I'll be there to work on a new MAKE ART/STOP AIDS exhibition that will be part of the International AIDS Conference. Mexico!!! WooHoo!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Literary Closet

I've always been a closet poet. I've written plays, novels, short stories. All of these take forever to finish. I've had stories waiting to be finished for over ten years!

I want some closure. I think poems can help me achieve this. So, here's a poem. No workshops, no revisiting. It's finished.

On Being 40

I am in the middle.
I am half
More full, than empty.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Literary Laureate


It was noted that Kay Ryan was named the new US Poet Laureate. She has a slew of awards, including ones from the NEA and the Guggenheim. She's spoken highly of and congrats goes to her!

And she's a LESBIAN!!!

I love it when queer people get sh*t like this. It gives me hope that the WORK, not the sexual orientation is most important.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Literary Baseball



I went to a Dodger game. I would have never gone if the tickets weren't a gift from a friend. The last time I went was well over 25 years ago when I was twelve. I saw Fernando Valenzuela hit a home run.

My basebll story would have ended there...until now! I was there for all of 3 minutes when I got into the spirit of the game. I was cheering, hootin' and hollerin'! I couldn't believe how much fun I had! I got caught up in the culture of the stadium, standing up to participate in The Wave, singing "Take me out to the baseball"--I knew all the words--and hoping the Dodger would win (they lost to the Marlins).

On the giant TV, I was shot back to my childhood when they showed that Fernando Valenzuela was in the stadium watching the game also. Whoa.

I kept kicking myself because baseball is such the American past time and The Dodgers are such an icon of Los Angeles. I consider myself a Los Angeles writer (above other labels like gay writer or Asian American writer) that I couldn't believe that I allowed myself to be deprived of such a Los Angeles cultural event. Hmmmm. I wonder if I can get Laker tickets.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Literary Music

I love this idea of artists inspiring other artists. What gets me to write the most is when I am exposed to a great movie, an incredible painting, an amazng performance. Check this video of songs that were inspired by literature. Who knew George Orwell inspired so many?!?!?


Friday, July 11, 2008

Literary Worley Wind Tour


I highly recommend this story by Cole Ynda about the Joanne Worley no one ever knew. See here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Literary Caricature

I hate narcissistic blogs where all you see are pics of the author, but I had to show this. I've never been a caricature before. It was done by Rama Hughes (http://www.ramahughes.com/) for Skylight Books. See other Skylight staff drawn like this here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Literary Cut


At my old job, it took me fifteen minutes to get to work and fiteen minutes to get back, maybe 25 in traffic. With my new job, it takes on average an hour to get to work and an hour to get back. That's two hours out of my day driving and not writing.

I needed more writing time. One way of doing this was to cut my grooming time. My hair actually takes a bit to prepare. With the drying time, gel or pomading time, combing and styling time, I lose about 20 minutes. So, I decided to cut off my tresses. This is the shortest my hair has ever been. I like it. It takes me three minutes to prepare it now.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Literary Tongue

I was fortunate enough to partake in the Tongue and Groove reading series put put on by Conrad Romo (above with fellow writers Faye Lane and Catherine Griffith). I shared the stage with some great talent, including Kate Crash, Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle, and Jake Labotz.
In preparing for this, I had an interesting time. I couldn't decide what to read. I was sort of tired of reading from the novels. I didn't feel like reading from the new novel-in-progress. I considered some short stories, maybe an essay. In the end, I chose a monologue from one of my solo shows and borrowed an entry from My Finger Project, a piece written by Cheryl Klein.

As I prepared, I remembered how I didn't have much of a choice 10 years ago. I didn't have that much to choose from. To think that now I have a "Body of Work" to pull from was actually kinda cool.

I read/performed a piece from The Rice Room. I hadn't done anything from that war horse in awhile. Performing Rice Room was interesting. I was acting! Inside it felt like home. I couldn't sleep because the feeling was so familiar and exciting.
Funny, when I was a twenty year old actor, I didn't know I'd become a performance artist. When I was thirty, I only had dreams of publishing a novel. Now, that I'm forty, I wonder what I'm going to become.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Literary Heat

I. I've noted that my next novel will have Blood and Disease as themes. Earlier this month, I got into a heated e-mail exchange about how gay men can't give blood becuase of the fear of tainting the blood supply with AIDS. However, heterosexuals who make up most of the HIV infections in the world aren't held to the same standards. Also, it turns out drug users and prostitutes can eventually give blood after a certain time, but gay men can't. Ever! Some of you who read my second novel Talking to the Moon may have remembered a scene where a son couldn't give his dying father blood because he was gay. Well, that came from my real life experience.


Writer (and former student) Serena Lin wrote (with minor assistance from me) this piece for Asian Week. It says in a nutshell that this practice is wrong and should be changed.


II. I escaped the heat of Los Angeles by doing a reading in San Francisco with Michelle Tea (below) on Tuesday. It was most fun. For the first time, I read a section from my novel-in-progress, Boy With Bleeding Hands (see section I about what it's about). It was a wonderful exercise in putting my next novel out into the world.

III. It's going to get hot this weekend as I do a reading for Conrad Romo's Tongue and the Groove. I'll probably be reading from the new novel as well.
Details:
"Tongue & Groove"A monthly offering of short fiction, personal essays, poetry, spoken word + music produced by Conrad Romo. This month featuring the following: Noel Alumit, Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle, Kate Crash, Katherine Griffith, Faye Lane and music by Jake La Botz.
Sunday the 29th of June
6:00-7:30 pm
The Hotel Cafe1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.Hollywood, Ca 90028
$6.00

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Literary Queery

I'd been doing a lot of really queer stuff lately. Maybe because it's June and it simply screams Gay pride month. I started with an event on gay and lesbian publishing, hosted by PEN USA West.
Novelist Sarah Schulman (left), joined here with novelist Nina Revoyr, cracked open the evening by stating the disparities in publishing. Last year, not a single lesbian novel was published by a major publisher.

The host was KCRW's Michael Silverblatt (left), joined with Corey Roskin from the City of West Hollywood, who was most passionate about gays and lesbians TAKING a place in the world of writing--cuz no one is going to give it to us.

I hung out with the mostly lesbian crowd at the Hammer Museum to check out Sister Spit, a troupe that writer Michelle Tea started in the 1990's in San Francisco that provided space for girls to read their work and develop as writers. Poet Eileen Miles headlined the event.


The Lambda Literary Organization moved to Los Angeles and Executive Director Charles Flowers and Poet/Editor David Groff decided to have a lunch. Some noteworthy writers showed up like Peter Gadol, Chris Rice, and Mark Thomspson. The joint we lunched in was known for it's pizzas, but most of us chose salads to gorge on.

Here is the seafood salad I ate.

Here's to the gay writers who lunch!


The queer month ends with me doing a reading, curated by Michelle Tea herself, at the San Francisco Public Library (above, located at 100 Larkin and Grove) on June 24th at 6pm. I will be joining zinestor and illustrator Nicole J. Georges (Invincible Summer); performance artist and Sister Spit member Sara Seinberg; and writer, activist, performer and educator Guillermo Gomez-Pena (author of American Book Award winning New World Border). Come on out and say, Hi

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Literary Summer


For the Pride issue of IN Los Angeles magazine, I was asked to put together a summer reading guide. Look at who I talked to and find out what ten books I chose that every gay man should read this hot season. See here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Literary Distraction

I know I'm a creative person. I must create or die. My writing is, ur, um, so-so. I started this internet arts endeavor as a way to stay creative while my writing slogs along.

Click here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Literary closure

Many of you know that I'd been doing AIDS work for a veeeeeery long time. It has affected my life, spurred me to write, forced me to grow. I started doing AIDS work at the Chris Brownlee Hospice for People With AIDS, located in Elysian Park. It was back in the early 1990's. Many passed away. One death, in particular, hit me particularly hard and I left abruptly. The hospice closed down in 1996 when life-saving medication came onto the scene.

Today, I went to the rededication of the new Chris Brownlee building. It was in the same place, but the use of the building is different. It's now used for AIDS education purposes.

I thought I'd break down when I walked through the familiar walls, remembering all those who died there. I cried a little, then felt a renewal hope. This building found a new purpose, a new reason for being. Oddly, I felt a closure happening. Things came round.

I wasn't writing then. I didn't know I'd become a writer. Strange: if it weren't for the hospice, I don't think I'd be writing. Alot of people died unceremoniously. Their lives uncelebrated. I think about them sometimes when I write.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Literary Expo

I went to Book Expo America. It's a huge event with publishers from all over coming to pitch their latest line of books to booksellers. I went to network and check out trends. I also went to a number of networking events (um, parties really) to meet new people.

There were, of course, big wigs there taking up huge amounts of space. Every publisher you can imagine was there.

Deals were being made. This hall had agents, editors, and publisher making deals about rights and acquisitions.


At some events, the champange was flowing. I only had water.



There were important scholarly types talking about their books, like Robert Thurman who endowed the first Chair at Columbia University for the study of Buddhism. He's a brilliant man. Alas, some just call him Uma's dad.

There were celebrities like Ernest Borgnine pushing his memoir.


People in suits promoting stuff like this book Marley's Treasure.


There was a small lane called "Writers Row." These were people who had the gumption to pitch their own line of books, like this guy with Ghetto Heat Publishing


Or this guy stood pushing his book and his buddy sleeping there.

At the end of the day, I had a blast!