Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Black Swan--I Get Her

Okay, I went to see the Black Swan. I knew a little about the movie, but not a lot. Natalie Portman is a crazed ballerina struggling to play the Black Swan in Swan Lake. She can be the sweet White Swan, but the seductive Black Swan is a bit of a challenge.

I went with my family who had problems with the movie. Of course, going to see this kind of movie with your mother is NOT a good idea. I mean I really wanted to enjoy the sex scenes, but with mom next to me, I was rather self concious.

My family wasn't as enthused about the movie as I was. I loved it. Afterall, I connected with the protagonist. Not the crazy, schizo part, but the creative part. The ultimate challenge for any artist: you must win the war against...yourself!

This is something I live with every day. Write, write, create, paint maybe, perform another show--but how, when?

Black Swan was a sumptious tribute to the creative mind. One of the best movies I'd seen in a long time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Literary Hotspots

There I was, winding down my evening. I do some internet surfing, reading peices in the Huffington Post. There is a link to Literary Hotspots in Los Angeles. I think, oh, this might be cool. The first paragraph makes mention of the regulars that you might read about when it comes to Literary Los Angeles--Raymond Carver, Joan Didion.

It mentions places in Los Angeles that have been named in books. What a pleasant surprise it was to see my first novel mentioned! Well, this sleepy head just perked right up.

Read here

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Painting Stories

Last month, I went to see the artist Gronk (above) at the Museum of Contemperary Art. For the last twenty years, he'd been painting a character named Tormenta, a faceless woman depicted in various scenarios. I thought that was marvelous. She's on ongoing character carried through in images.

I ran into Poet Marisela Norte at MOCA. Here she is with a statue of Tormenta.

I started painting last Summer and I felt inspired to do my own Tormenta. She's simply called "Pinay," (pronounced pin-eye') slang for a Filipino woman. This first piece is called "Pinay Causes Energy in the City."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Difficult Writing: Eulogy

I had one of the hardest writing assignments ever! I was asked to write a eulogy. A friend and colleague passed away suddenly just before Thanksgiving. A handful of people were asked to eulogize him. I was one of them. I kept putting it off and putting off. Finally, I had to get down to it and write the best way I knew how. It's an emotional experience because it is ultimately a good-bye note.

The last time I wrote a eulogy was when my father died. To this day, my dad's eulogy was the most difficult thing I'd ever written.

Writing novels or plays is nothing compared to having to write one of these suckers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Literary Recommendation: Mens Vogue

I never thought I'd be recommending the international edition of Mens Vogue for literary influence, but I am. I was perusing the magazine section of Skylight Books and began reading the English version of Vogue Hommes International. It was dedicated to older men. As a man who is getting older, I was interested. They featured male models of old, well the 1980's, and I remembered those faces who I saw on billboards and magazines in my youth. They were still handsome. Even with wrinkles and lines, these men held up.

I was more thrilled to see to see features on Don Delillo, Martin Amis and John Waters. There were also interesting pieces on desinger Giorgio Armani and artist Ed Ruscha. A photographic essay on Iggy Pop was also quite entertaining.

Run out and get this issue right now! It'll serve up hours of good reading.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Rec: Catching Fire

When I hear that an anthropologist writes a book, I groan. I think of some dry piece of writing with a ton of citations. I don't immediately think of it as thought-provoking, illuminating or quickly-paced. However, Catching Fire, How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham was exactly that.

It was our book group pick and I dreaded reading it, but a few pages in, I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Wrangham postulates that the act of using fire to cook our food led to our development as humans. Cooking makes food easier to digest--raw meat would take hours to eat and process in our systems--and helped develop our brains and bodies.

What I most enjoyed about this book was that I truly wondered what would happen next. Like a good novel, I wondered how the hell did we get from ape to man. Oh, I know the theories from school, how we slowly evolved over time, from four-legged creatures to two-legged ones, but this books provides a missing link: cooking!

I know eating "raw" is in these days, with some claiming it to be healthy. Afterall, monkeys and apes eat things raw. Well, it turns out that if monkeys and apes actually had a choice, as some examples illustrated in the book showed, they much prefer cooked food over raw.

I'm never taking my stove for granted again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Centric

Please come and support this reading! I'll be sharing the mic with Monica Carter, Glenn Kessler, and more. It's curated by the amaaaaazing Hank Henderson.

November 18th. Read more here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

When the writing hurts, paint!

Sometimes writing hurts. It just hurts. The sentences are slow going and the words feel like boulders being upchucked from my throat. However, I commit to being creative every single day. If the writing doesn't do it, it's performance or redecorating or cooking or sewing.

Well, performance can be harder to come by than writing. There are only so many ways I can move the couch. The recipes and spices run out. That cumbersome sewing machine just gets too heavy to take out of storage. The great thing about being creative is finding other ways to be creative.

Over the Summer, I started painting. After admiring those who do it, I gave myself permission to try it. Got some canvas, paint and brushes, and away I went. It's been fun and relaxing. I even sold one to my brother in Texas!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writing Workshop at Cal-State LA

I'll be teaching a writing workshop at Cal-State LA on Monday, November 1 at 3pm.
I'll be in the Alhambra Room, 3rd Floor of the University-Student Union.
Cal-State LA
5151 State University Drive
LA CA 90032
Call the Cross Cultural Center for more information: 323.343.5001.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eileen Myles

Writer Eileen Myles read from her new book Inferno tonight at Skylight. I'd introduced her before and have always liked her. Read about her here. She's produced 20 books of fiction, essays and novels.

During her question and answer period, she talked about being lazy and how she tricks herself into writing. I thought, OMG, me, too! I'd been having a hard time writing. Well, I'd been writing in, but not putting thoughts on paper. Like these sentences that came to me while driving.

"You must break her heart," Mrs. Lomi told her oldest son. "Tell her everything a girl likes to hear, that you'll always love her, always take care of her. Tell her you'll never leave. Make her fall in love with you. Once she does, write her a note and tell her you found someone else. Tell her you never loved her afterall. She'll be devasted. You must do that. Break her heart."

"That's cruel, mom."

"That's nothing compared to what her family did to ours."

Frankly, it hurts to write. While my book of short stories is making the rounds, it's been painful. It was a relief hearing Eileen talk of her difficulties writing sometimes. Her latest book took ten years to write! I don't feel so bad now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tayo Party


Join TAYO Literary Magazine supporters, artists and writers at our annual release party on Saturday, October 23rd from 6:00pm - 8:30pm. After a successful inaugural year empowering our artistic community through our 1st annual issue, online community, and events/workshops, TAYO is extremely proud to be releasing its 2nd annual issue.

Along with showcasing the 2nd issue of TAYO, the event will feature open mic performances, a silent art auction, and refreshments. Admission price also includes one complimentary issue and light hors d'oeuvres. Pre-sale admission is $15, door-sale admission is $20.
Fill out this form here: http://tayoliterarymag.com/TAYO/participate/


TAYO Literary Magazine aims to empower and bring together Filipino American youth through the many different forms of creative art. By gathering differing expressions of Filipino American identity, from high school students to full-fledge adults, TAYO paints an intricate anthology of the Filipino culture and community. Sponsorship and advertisement opportunities are still available.

For more information, please visit: http://www.tayoliterarymag.com/TAYO/.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Free Downloads of an AMAZING Novel

As some of you know I loved this novel. Read here. In response to the gay suicides, Rakesh Satyal is offering free downloads till midnight tonight!

According to Satyal, “I wrote the book that I needed as a kid and didn't have, so it seems particularly relevant to the events of this past week to make a story about transcending homophobia available to readers of all stripes.”

BLUE BOY tells the story of Kiran Sharma: lover of music, dance, and all things sensual; son of immigrants, social outcast, spiritual seeker. A boy who doesn't quite understand his lot—until he realizes he's a god... As an only son, Kiran has obligations—to excel in his studies, to honor the deities, to find a nice Indian girl, and, above all, to make his mother and father proud—standard stuff for a boy of his background. If only Kiran had anything in common with the other Indian kids besides the color of his skin. They reject him at every turn, and his cretinous public schoolmates are no better. Cincinnati in the early 1990s isn’t exactly a hotbed of cultural diversity, and Kiran’s not-so-well-kept secrets don’t endear him to any group. Playing with dolls, choosing ballet over basketball, taking the annual talent show way too seriously… the very things that make Kiran who he is also make him the star of his own personal freak show.

BLUE BOY was named “Best Debut Fiction” of 2009 by the Lambda Literary Foundation. Rakesh Satyal is a graduate of Princeton University, where he studied comparative literature and writing. Currently an editor at HarperCollins, he is also on the planning committee of the annual PEN World Voices Festival. He sings a popular cabaret show that has been featured widely, from “Page Six” to the New York Observer. He lives in New York City. More info can be found at: http://www.rakeshsatyal.com/

Click here to download.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Congrats, Mario!

Guess who won the Nobel in Literature. Read here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Outing Myself

Gay.com is honoring October, Coming Out Month. They asked me to contribute by writing a letter to my younger self and give him advice just before I came out. The result was this letter. Read here. With the news of gay suicides, I'm glad I could offer this in some small way. Oh, yeah, that's a pic of me in high school with perm.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Gay Suicides

It's been hard reading news of the suicides by young men for being gay (or appearing gay). They were spurred on by taunts or internet shenanigans. This strikes a cord with me and makes me wonder: why do we treat gay lives as fodder? I suppose when churches, schools, businesses degrade gay life (going as far as calling us degenerates), it's no wonder children or teenagers will take on the call of their elders and mock gay people. Unfortunately, these taunts have had devastating effects.

I can hear naysayers griping that it's not society's fault for the death of these young people. I've heard it before when people say gay men die of AIDS becasue they brought it onto themselves. This is bullshit. It simply gives creeps the excuse to be as homophobic as they wanna be.

I'm a big believer that a stone in a pond causes a ripple effect that most of us can't fathom. This is the stone I throw: Being gay is wonderful! It is the most beuatiful thing. Let that ripple out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Literary Rebels!

Come check us out! I'll be on at 5pm at the Storytelling and Readings Stage. More here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More on the Libraries

It still burns me how LA libraries are being closed down twice a week. As this LA Weekly article discusses, it's a "black eye" to our city.
Read here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

My First Painting--EVER!!!

I noticed that when the writing gets tough, I start to do other creative things. When I had a hard time writing Letters to Montgomery Clift, I began to sew. With Talking to the Moon I started to cook and engage in martial arts. Now, I picked up a paint brush.

All of this I know is just another means of expressing myself. If I don't write, I just feel awful, but if I'm doing something--anything--creative I feel I've accomplished something.

Yesterday, I just started painting. It was fun and relaxing, and I look forward to doing more of it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Women Vs. Men

There's an interesting article on how men seem to get the focus when writing about literary fiction. Jonathan Franzen has--again--stolen the spotlight. Read here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Perfect Storm: Mysterious Skin in LA

It is rare for me to experience the coming together of some of my favorite things. Scott Heim's Mysterious Skin is one of my favorite novels; East West Players is one of my favorite theatres; Director Tim Dang and Playwright Prince Gomovilas are two of my favorite people. And on September 9, they will be all coming together!

The LA premiere of Mysterious Skin, adapted for the stage by Prince Gomolvilas, directed by Tim Dang, will be at East West Players!

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

AAJA Aftermath

1. I'd been thinking about the Asian American Journalist Conference, especially going to the closing reception and hearing the stories of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the journalists who were imprisoned for crossing the border from China into North Korea. AAJA lobbied for their release because they believed that reporting the news shouldn't be a crime.

I was moved to hear how Laura Ling got out of North Korea with Bill Clinton's help. Ling admits that crossing the border from China to North Korea was a "big mistake." But to get sentenced to 12 years of hard labor?

Bill Clinton's visit made a big impact on Ling's release. Kim Jong Il wanted to meet Clinton for some time. You see, when Kim Jong Il's father passed away, Clinton was the first to call and give condolences. Apparently this act of diplomacy, of kindness stayed with Kim Jong Il and influenced the release of Laura Ling and fellow writer Euna Lee. Good deeds can go far!

2. I was thrilled to meet Emil Gueillermo. I'd been reading his columns for years. Read about him here. When I was thinking of a Filipino journalist who gets kidnapped in the Philippines for my novel Letters to Montgomery Clift, I was influeced by Emil Guillermo and named the character after him.

3. The most electrifying time of the conference was when 82 year old editor KW Lee recalled the reportage of the 1992 Riots in Los Angeles. He cussed out AAJA for their lact of action during the riots. "We're chicken shit Asians," he said, referring to Asian journalists and our inaction on reporting on social issues. (Ur, I didn't take it personally. Most of my journalism was reporting on AIDS for God's sake.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I love a good literary fued and this writer is starting a war. He lists 15 of America's Overrated Writers. Click here.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Asian American Journalist Association--AAJA

I'd been attending the AAJA conference this week, learning all the neat things that journalists need to know to get by. I went to a workhop on "search tools" and got caught up on this OPENBOOK thing. Click here.

Essentially, it shows how unprivate Facebook is. Unless you have privacy settings in place, anyone can search your profile--even if they're not one of your "friends." Try it out. Plug in a topic of interest like "Prop 8" or "Obama" or "Lady Gaga" and it shows you what people (you) are saying about the subject.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I had a good discussion with my agent. He gave me feedback on the first 50 pages of my new novel. In a word to describe the first 50 pages: useless. Well, maybe I'm being too harsh, but he didn't think those first 50 pages should start the novel. He said it was all exposition. Start with action, action, action!

The funny thing is I know this. This was the same note I got with my last novel. These are "throat-clearing" pages. Now, that it's clear, maybe I could start anew. Here is the first paragraph that I wrote this morning.

Chapter One

"It was never my intention to be a father, let alone be a father to a sick child. My wife wanted a baby and I’d do anything for her. Through my ups and downs as a writer, she’d stuck by me. Now, she wanted this. She wanted to be a mother. We adopted because we can’t have any of our own. If I’d known our son would be sick, I wouldn’t have done it. Frankly, I wanted to give him back."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kind Rejection

I got my first rejection for my short story collection this week. It was truly the kindest rejection I'd ever gotten. The editor said he was familiar with my work and he enjoyed my last book, but he chose to pass on this project.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Libraries in the News!

(Writer Naomi Hirahara speaking her mind)

I hosted a press conference on the library cuts in Los Angeles. The LA Weekly covered it. Read here.

It also made the news. Here's the video (with me getting a little ticked).

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Un-Slam The Doors-Keep Our Library Open: A Protest Rally at Central Library

Where: Central Library Fifth Street Entrance When: Monday, July 19th at 9:30 AM

On Monday, July 19, for the first time in our library's history, the Los Angeles Public Library is ordered to shut its doors on Mondays to our patrons, including our city's children. Because of the Mayor's budget cuts and layoffs, a two year hiring freeze, and retirements, our library is now reduced to five days a week service (Tuesday thru Saturday).

This Monday closure is a historical, unprecedented cut to the library and is the first sign of the Mayor and City Council's sweeping blow to the rest of our city services.

In protest, city workers and library supporters of all ages are staging a rally, demonstration and program at Central Library on the first closed Monday of the budget cuts. Distinguished speakers and local slam poets will be featured. We are united in our call to city leaders: Restore our library's hours! Restore our library's services! Restore our library's programs!

I'm hosting this baby! I'll be there with D'Lo, Imani Tolliver, Naomi Hirahara and more!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Begins...

My agent started sending out my manuscript to publishers. Breathe in...out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I had the pleasure of visiting Linda Smith's studio. Her work is colorful, overwhelming, loud. It is both a ballad and a scream. "Breathtaking" is on overused descriptor, but I finally understood the meaning of that word when I saw her art. I walked through her studio, a place that held canvasses from the 1980's, and felt a sense of awe.

It is always a pleasure hearing how an aritst creates and why. The above video is only a glimpse of the two hours that we shared eating, talking and laughing.

Check out her website here.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Look at what I found...

This hobby is really making me happy...and broke. Seriously, I'm really seeing all of the beautiful things in the world and how people just give them up. Or get tired of them.

I found one lovely painting and on the back read, "For my honey, Happy Birthday, I Love you!!!"

Perhaps there was a break-up and this source of beauty became a source of pain. It was discarded, and now I have it. I have their moment, when times were good. I framed it.

I have another painting that reads: "To: My 'Precious' friend Vicky. Love Always Holden." It's dated 1920. Decades later, I wonder about Holden and how he still loves Vicky. Always, he wrote. That's a very long time.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Made revisions. Sent another draft to my agent. Let's see what happens.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Recent Art Saves

These amazing paintings were "saved." My apartment is getting stacked with art. What to do?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Promising on June 11: Riffing on Pride

On June 11, Queers writers will riff on Pride. On the eve of Gay Pride Weekend, nine amazing writers will explore Pride—all sorts of PRIDE. True creativity will shine as writers read work that exemplifies Pride’s meaning. This could be discussing civic Pride, an analysis of Pride and Prejudice, a description of a Pride of animals, the Deadly Sin of Pride and, of course, gay Pride.

Contributing to the fray:
Hailed as one of “the top 5 up and coming solo artists” by Music Connection Magazine, ALEX DAVIS is a transman to be reckoned with. In 2004, he began touring local venues in LA, leaving audiences awed and moved by his phenomenal talent and raw emotion. With influences such as Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain, he's apt to be driven. Check him out at http://www.luckyalex.com/
ALISON DE LA CRUZ is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and community-based cultural organizer. Whether working in theater, film, arts education, administration, music, or arts and culture, De La Cruz is always exploring something.

Described as a “jolt of creative and comedic energy,” D'LO is a Tamil Sri L.A.nkan-American, political theatre artist/writer, director, comedian and music producer.

LARRY DUPLECHAN is the author of five novels, including Blackbird and the Lambda Literary Award-winning Got ‘til it’s Gone. His hobbies include playing the ukulele, reading show business biographies, and pursuing his ongoing quest to forestall the physical aging process and build truly outstanding pecs.

DAVID FRANCIS' first novel Agapanthus Tango was published internationally in seven languages and then in the United States as The Great Inland Sea. His second novel, Stray Dog Winter won the American Library Association Stonewall Prize. http://www.straydogwinter.com/.

JACKY GUERRERO is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles.

HANK HENDERSON curates the monthly reading series homo-centric. His first solo show, Stories From the Fugue State, will be performed at Highways this July.

RIC MONTEJANO is a writer, director, actor who has proudly had his work performed at Highways Performance Arts Space, Wordspace in Los Feliz, Stories in Echo Park, the West Hollywood Book Fair, the Village and various venues around the state. He has always been a proud gay man

IMANI TOLLIVER has been honored with a Certificate of Appreciation by the City of Los Angeles for her work as a promoter, host and publicist in support of the literary arts in Southern California. She also served as the 2007/2008 Poet Laureate for the Watts Towers Arts Center in Los Angeles, California.

The Promising Series will take place on Friday, June 11 at 7:30pm. Skylight Bookstore, 1818 North Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90029, (323) 660-1175.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Viable Collection--Oh, Joy!

My agent had been slowly giving me feedback on my collection of shorts, Laconic Messages of Love. I was worried that he'd say this book isn't quite ready with these stories, maybe you should write a few others. Imagine my relief when I got a stash of revisions with a note stating that this is a "viable collection." I jumped for joy! I hope to send him a final draft this month, which means Noel goes into hibernation for the next several weeks.

In his note, he said that this collection might be easier to sell if I had a "promise of a novel" to go with it. Of course, I have a novel. And I promised him the first fifty pages in July, which means Noel goes into more hibernation.

I think I was a bear in a previous life.