I’m not sure what time it was, jumping from time zones to time zones again. I find myself walking around the Denver airport, like a zombie. I’m on a layover, back on the road. I think I got about an hour sleep from Omaha, I know I got 3 and half hours of sleep in my cozy hotel suite, but on the plane, I’m less sure. Listening to one of the latest podcasts that I find terribly interesting, I fall in and out of consciousness 20,000 feet in the air, getting information piped into my brain about decisive machines and our in eminent demise. Wake up to a somewhat rough landing, always have that thought in the back of your mind… is this the way I’m going to go? But that morbid thought leaves your mind when wheels reach the ground. Now here I am, aimlessly walking around an airport I’ve been to several times. It’s eerily familiar, although I don’t know the city of Denver at all, this airport… I know, the Jamba Juice I once bought a cold buster because I wasn’t feeling good, the shop that sells outdoor jackets that I always go into, thinking, maybe I need another Northface jacket. But always leave empty handed, reminding myself, I live in LA and I hardly use the jackets I own. It’s like a dream really, I wear sunglasses, not to look cool, but more because my eyes are bloodshot. That stand with all the Colorado gear looks cool, I mean it’s a cool state flag, looks like some cool visual artist designed it for a skateboard company or something. I decide I’m hungry and I opt for and bagel… I’m not happy with my choice, I don’t know why I would choose to get salmon in an airport in Denver, none of that seems like and good idea… I can only stomach half of it, the top half, always been partial to the top of the bagel. The airport is an interesting place to be half conscious, everybody on the way to somewhere else, literally in transition… oh, looks like we’re boarding for my flight home. Time to go back to sleep.
It’s a gloomy in LA on this last day of the year, the overcast seems somewhat fitting as I think back at 2016. So many memes online about how atrocious this last year has been, all the legendary figures that we lost, most notably in my mind, Prince and David Bowie… and of course most recently Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and George Michael. And then there’s the madness of the last election… sometimes I like to look at the happenings of this world a thermometer of where we’re at.
Where are we at?
I don’t know… Protests, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Trump, Alt Right, Pokémon Go, Emails hacked, Allepo, Kanye, Cubs and Cavaliers… Kind of a crazy year.
Maybe an important year. I think of the turmoil that plagues us here, feeling of this divide in our United States. I try to remind myself that were a country at war, the longest war in our countries history, it’s odd, because most of us forget that, but I think the repercussions of all that is revealed in the people. Fear and anger is what I feel a lot of when I think about what’s going on… and it’s real and warranted on both sides. We’re in a time of transition, a “change” that started years ago and with a promise from Obama and will continue one way or another with the new president. But it’s not just about them, it’s about us as a people and it’s not just the States, as I’ve been traveling around the world this last week, the feeling of which way do we go is looming over all of us. We’re all apart of this transition, change… and most of the time, change is painful… (cue the Bowie song “Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes”)
At the end of the day… or I guess, end of this year, I hope for the best, I will do my best to be a positive force in this transition. No resolutions, just continue to create and communicate. I have a lot of plans for 2017, I hope to get most of them done.
I hope you guys have a wonderful New Year’s celebration, where ever you are. Enough of my melancholy rambling, I’m raising a glass with all y’all tonight…
Talk to you next year!
I finally got to watch “Rogue One” last night, I’ve been dying to watch the latest Star Wars installment. I grew up a fan like so many in my generation. I remember seeing all of them in the theatre and wanting to be Luke Skywalker. I remember my parents getting us light sabers, I didn’t know what a “saber” was as a kid and I called them light “savers” and they were the ones that a were basically those old red flashlights, with the rectangular white piece of plastic to slide them on and off and we’re powered by two D batteries. Attached to the flashlight was a pvc pipe of some sort that illuminated light when the flash light was turned on. We all fought for the green one to be like Luke.
All these memories flash through my mind as I sit in the theatre to watch “Rogue One”, right beside my little brother, like we’re kids again. I really loved the movie, it was so great to revisit the world, in spite of all the Star Wars films in the last decade or so, this one felt different, more gritty, more adult, definitely more violent.
I’m not really trying to review the film, just want to talk about my thoughts and feelings while watching it. My last few reviews, I talked about how I felt as an ethnic actor watching these projects. This film was amazing, to see with multidimensional characters that are meaningful in the story, Latino, Asian, Black, Middle Eastern… even little things like female fighter pilots. This film was so progressive. I loved feeling included in this film as an audience member.
I also was tripping out a bit on the fashion. You have to remember, the original film came out in the 70’s and that fashion was current, now, doing a prequel to that, it’s kinda of funny to see. I mean we’ve all gotten used to the look. But all the guys in capes is pretty funny. Back in those days, you’d see all these guys in capes, from Bowie to Elvis to Libarace, guess it was a cool look… maybe we need to bring it back. Also, there’s a real cult thing with the empire, guys in robes, bowing to Vader and what not. Kinda weird.
Then, all that got me to thinking about us here in the States and this Trump presidency coming up… a feeling of art and reality mixing, the idea of a rebellion, the possibility of a movie like this or Harry Potter getting us ready to rise up against the powers that be… not just this new regime coming into power, but all the government that has been governing in a questionable way over these last generations… I don’t know, it just makes you think.
Then I’m awaken this morning with an alert on my smartwatch with a blurb from CNN simply explaining Carrie Fisher best known for her role as Princess Leia passes away this morning. And it’s like my life flashes before my eyes, from a child to now, heros and heroines that have been in my mind, being more mortal than myth… a whole year of it really, most recently with Carrie Fisher and George Michael.
I’ve always loved that in a galaxy far, far away… there is this spectacular story going on and through all the adventures of good versus even, it somehow made a lot of sense in my life. I also was so excited when I got an original character in “Star Wars Rebels” and got to have a little piece of this galaxy far, far away.
So Princess Leia, I pray you rest in peace and know that the rebellion will fight on!
It’s a rainy night in LA, rainy nights always make me feel a little melancholy. Tonight, I tapped of my holiday shopping and trudged across town, to Koreatown, to get my favorite bowl of Ramen in Los Angeles. I’m sure some will ask what the place is called, so I’ll tell you, Slurpin Ramen (no one has secret spots anymore, I guess it’s for the better, that’s how I find most of my new favorite places… ps, here’s a picture)
Anyway, I’ve just been shopping for the last few days, my girl asked me what I wanted for a present. I can honestly say I don’t need a thing. I’m fortunate to able to spoil myself all year long, I don’t need another stitch of clothing, matter a fact, I have to find a way to probably get rid of half the stuff in my closet. I only say this to tell time that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found more joy in giving gifts than getting them. Of course for my nieces and nephews, but also for my parents and my brothers and sisters. Not just giving them something, but thinking about something they’d like and going around town getting all the things, hopefully unique things. It’s like an adventure.
Sometimes you got to give them what they want, sometimes what they need and sometimes I just give them something that makes me laugh. One of my brothers likes gadgets and random things like me, sometimes I catch an infomercial on TV late at night and if it’s something I like for one reason or another, I’ll order it for him…usually they have that, we’ll throw in a second one for 19.99! I usually keep that one for myself.
Well, I finished my soup, the rain is letting up… just thinking about giving, it’s the season for giving, I can dig that. I hope you guys are having a good holiday with your families. I hope you give somebody something they really want.
Happy Merry Everything…
Tonight I painted a Christmas ornament, actually my second one this holiday season. I used acrylic paint both times and both times I must admit I felt pretty damn artistic! Sometimes I wonder, if I wasn’t an actor, what else would have I become… I always think writer first. Well, I am a poet, and even writing a blog, makes you somewhat of a writer. (I know I need to write more, especially this blog) but I’ve also been blessed to have my play produced and have had a movie produced I cowrote, so I am a writer, I love writing.
I also think sometimes I could have been a musician. I mean I still write songs sometimes, but I’m thinking like more of a jazz musician… like a horn player. I love John Coltrane, he’s always been one of my favorites. I still listen to “Giant Steps” regularly, especially on gloomy days in LA, I listen to the whole album, from top to bottom. It soothes me for some reason. I also listen to Coltrane when I’m sick. See, I don’t take medicine, haven’t taken so much as an aspirin in over 20 years. I tell friends that are sick to simply, take the day off, stay in bed, drink hot tea and listen to John Coltrane.
Maybe if I had to do it all again, I would take the 20 years of acting classes and conservatory and trade it all in to master the craftsmanship of the saxophone. I don’t know, maybe…
I just know, I’d probably be an artist, no matter which water it all was going to happen. It feels to good when I’m being creative. It means something, even as I paint an ornament that no one outside of the folks in this room will ever see, it means something, there’s a piece of me in there somewhere, and expression of myself.
I guess that’s what it comes down to, just wanted to express myself, whether it’s for a crowd of people, or just for myself. So I’ll continue to write… don’t know if anyone is out there reading this, some post aren’t for you, some post are just for me to write. I probably would have been a pretty good saxophone player… maybe not.
So tonight, after a long weekend of holiday parties, I got to sneak out to the theatre to see “La La Land.” I was super excited because, I admit, I love musicals, they hold a special place in my life. I said many times that… probably John Travolta in “Grease,” is first reason why I wanted to become an actor. Anyhow, I love that musicals have made their way back into Hollywood, with all the live events of revival musicals on television and even dating back to “Moulin Rouge,” weaving in pop songs to tell the story. I was excited for this film to come out.
Some disclaimers, I always thought Justin Timberlake should be doing musical films, he is a true triple threat, (singing, acting & dance) but I mean, you got to take Ryan Gosling, JT may be a better dancer and singer, but Ryan has some of my favorite performances in the last few years. And hey, they were mousekateers together back in the day on “The Mickey Mouse Club.” (a show I auditioned for in my youth and didn’t make the cut) Also, I am a fan of Emma Stone, despite her being cast as a half Asian girl in “Aloha,” I’ve always found her adorable and an actor, like Gosling, who to me is infinitely watchable on screen, partially because they take risk in they’re performances and make quirky choices in their work.
So the movie… I watched the film tonight, in the company of my brothers and a friend who is an accomplished dancer who’s appeared on stage in Broadway touring shows. So, you know the conversation after this flick is going to be fire. Ultimately, I really like the movie. First and foremost, it paints LA with the most vibrant colors, grabbing all the old world charm of neon signs and buildings that take you back to the Golden Era of Hollywood, both on screen and in the streets. I can appreciate that, I can appreciate a lot of things from this is film, the references to “Rebel Without a Cause,” to jazz, to all the cool nuggets of LA that set the scene for the movie, it was cool to try to guess in your mind the location of some of those places and think of the moments you’ve had there. I grew up here, in this town, in this business, watching all the old movies, that’s our history, that’s what we studied.
Some Broadway purist are going to take offense to maybe the singing and dancing weren’t up to snuff with the stars that grace Broadway, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t disagree. The choreography was simple, yet well executed, Emma Stone’s voice was pretty thin when it came to the singing, but she was so fierce to attack the role and all it takes to do a musical. Her acting was amazing, she had some incredible moment, the audition scene in the film stands out. But, it all worked, I thought she was really good. Gosling was great, funny and charming… even when he’s being an asshole… He played the piano so well in the movie, makes you wonder how good of a piano player he actually is.
I grew up in this town and I like the movie because I identify with the story and the struggle of the artist that live here because I’ve gone through it and so have all my friends… we still are! There so many funny moments in the movie that ring true, I don’t know if it will to everyone, but to us, we were cracking up. There’s just an insanity, or craziness that we all have in this city, chasing our dreams and it’s in there in this movie, with these these two characters. Beautiful, romantic… heart breaking, I mean, that’s LA, that’s Hollywood.
Now I like it… I really like it… but there’s other feelings that rise up in me when I watch the film. It’s stylized and beautiful and shows an LA story, but ultimately it’s pretty light weight. It portrays an almost “lily white” Hollywood, a Hollywood from yesteryear. And I understand, that’s the look they were probably going for, but you can see that they tried to add ethnicity in the film with John Legend and the sister marrying an African American, but it all felt a bit token. I mean, this is LA, one of the most diverse cities in the world. And with the climate of musicals like “Hamilton,” and just where we are as a nation in this moment, the film feels a bit vanilla.
And as charming as the film is, and it is very charming, I would love to see some actors with some big voices and major dance chops to do some of the songs and dance numbers. Even though they are both fine actors, sometimes you can see a musical performance and be impacted by that powerful voice or blown away by the skill and grace of that special dancer, some of the numbers left you with a wanting for that feeling.
But non the less, I really enjoyed the movie and I’m sure it will be well received during awards season and rightfully so. And I loved it’s point of view on love… that last sequence really resonated with me. (No spoilers) I’d like to think that relationships that were important to you, we’re just as important to them, and we all play that “what if?” game in our head.
I’m just laying in bed thinking about the movie. I know some who follow this blog see that I haven’t posted in awhile. Life has been crazy, I’m just trying to write more, using my blog to get some thoughts out there. There’s going to be a lot of stuff going on in the new year, so I need to getting my writing appetite back… so, I’m just writing. Thank you for reading. -Dante
Last night I got the pleasure to attend the opening night in Los Angeles of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “King and I.” It’s always amazing to go see theatre, especially the Broadway extravaganzas. You really get to see how creative people can be to tell a story, especially in the set design and how objects move and people flutter sheets but somehow with the richness of the lights, we’re transported to another world. I mean, I’m a Hollywood kid, growing up more in film and television, but you watch a grand theatre production like this you feel the connection, you can see how productions like this a half century ago became movies like “Star Wars” or something like that.
The performances were great, I loved Jose Llana playing the King, it’s great to see Asian American artist working and this production was stacked deep with beautiful and talented Asian actors and dancers. This play is one of those titles that, as a young upcoming actor, who happens to be Asian, everyone would be like, “Someday, you’ll play the King.” As a kid watching the Yul Brynner version from the 50’s, I always related more to the son, the King to be, with doubts of himself. Now, watching it as an adult, I do relate more to the King… who still has his own self doubt.
Beyond the story, it’s interesting to see how artists back in those days, housed the conversation of race relations. I think the first production of this play was 1951, over sixty years ago! And the play takes place, some hundred years before that. Of course the play is about a white person going into a non-white world, teaching them what’s right and wrong or how to do something better… even going as far as having a school teacher, ultimately giving a head of state the advice and practically running International Relations. It’s kind of a funny and ridiculous, yet is probably 90 percent of the story lines of today’s movies in regards to ethnic people… so not much has changed there. Also, things stand out like the King and Anna’s relationship, there are moments written in there, like “Shall We Dance” but ultimately, no real romance, no kiss. I wonder if there was a different version written or how things were back then, if it was even possible to have an interracial relationship. I wonder if it were written today, if something like that would change.
In any case, the show was wonderful, if you’re in LA and you want to see some throwback epic theatre, this is a good one to see. Great songs and dance numbers, some real issues about race relations and slavery are intertwined in the story. It also made me personally think about a Thai girl I used to date, I mean, the place the play takes place in Sia, now known as Thailand. My ex girlfriend would humorously explain the superiority of Thailand over the Philippines, as place that was never conquered and colonized like the Philippines, which I guess I can appreciate… but now, a Filipino is playing you’re King… so, I’ll take that.