Category: Essays


Developing a curiosity for something – even understanding how you develop curiosity for something – is (within itself) a paradox. At least to me it is. If your mind were a blank slate and you had no prior knowledge or familiarity towards a particular place, person, idea, concept, theory, art form, whatever, how and why is it that certain things spark our interest and other things don’t?   I mean there had to have been some kind of pre-requisite, some sort of subconscious or repressed experience or memory, right? I mean, how does that work? Why does it work? What is the governor on this?

For example, why have I always loved martial arts? I know “how” it happened. I saw The Karate Kid when I was five and the rest is history. But why? I want to say it’s because “it’s in the blood,” family history, genetics, etc. But it’s not that. My dad worked in business, my mom is a scientist, my grandfathers were a farmer and sailor, respectively and my grandmothers were homemakers. So it’s not that either.

But that’s just one thing. One specific thing. And over the years I have developed an obsession with martial arts supplemented by an array of personal experience as a student, a competitor, a spectator, and add to that copious amounts of esoteric knowledge ranging from country of origin to being able to identify which martial art is being used by a practitioner on sight alone.

In the world of the Internet, smartphones, Netflix, and the overall instant gratification existence that everyone in a first-world country resides in, I have begun to realize and experience conflicting downsides to this world. Maybe not the downsides that  you would think. Sure we spend too much time online and as a result we are losing our abilities to socialize in person, our attention spans have been rubbed down to the nub, and as an English teacher, I am realizing that grammar and writing skills are also on life support.

But for me the most frustrating thing is not how nearly everyone and everything is trying to get my attention. The most frustrating thing is that nearly everyone and everything succeeds at it. As a result, when I do have free time, I become extremely anxious. I am captivated by everything. As long as it teaches me something, I want to learn it. At least one thing.

I am very fortunate to have friends from a multitude of cultural backgrounds involved in an array of professions and lifestyles. All of which, peak my curiosity. The vet tech, the digital editor, the marketing executive, the astrophysicist, the nurse, the immigration lawyer, the SLP. I have – and will continue to – pick their brains about their expertise. Let me learn something that I can take with me into a conversation with a stranger or into recalling some prior knowledge that might save my life one day and I don’t even know it yet.

Reading is something that I’ve also always enjoyed doing. Words on  page are a collection of secrets, ideas, hopes, fantasies, and fears. I want to know it all. But it’s not a “know-it-all” kind of attitude I want to bestow upon people. It’s not a “know-it-all” persona I want to be perceived as. I just want to appear smart. Better yet, I want to be smart. I feel like I’ve just been pretending to appear smart for most of my life.

Whenever I am asked to do something, I try to get it done as fast as I possibly can. It’s not because I don’t care even though sometimes the half-ass result that comes from my speeding through things is evident. It’s because there’s always something else that I am doing or thinking about and I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to lose perspective on this idea or thought that I have that may result in my next great story.

Here’s how my brain works; I’ve got the perfect metaphor for you. Remember the game “Telephone?” When someone would whisper a sentence into one person’s ear in a room full of people. Then that one person whispers it to the person next to them and so on until it goes all around the room. When it gets to the last person and they say out loud what they thought they heard it’s something completely different. THAT’S how my brain works… all the time. And maybe, just maybe one of the “people” (we’ll call them synapsis in my brain) interpreted or thought they heard a great idea, but then immediately after it says what it thought it heard, it’s gone. So then I have to track down that person (or synapse) to coax them out of saying what they said whether it was the original message or not. THAT’S my brain.

I would love some help or advice on this. I already write everything down. I’m writing this down. Besides it’s also part of my personal statement on my resumé. How do I organize my ideas (and my mind) into something I can work with and not something that’s constantly playing defense against me?

I just want to absorb as much as I can, comprehend what I am absorbing, and put it to creative work in the best possible way based on my sensibilities every time. Is that too much to ask?

“Best Popular Film” Category at Oscars is Worst Possible Idea (Here are Better Ones)

The Academy of Arts and Sciences has decided in their infinite stupidity to add an additional category to their already very long list of nominations. These new golden statue recipients will have earned it not by being recognized for an additional discipline or skill in filmmaking that has been long overlooked or ignored, but rather for being a part of the “Best Popular Film.” What does that even mean? Will it be given to the movie that had the highest profit? Or the movie with the most social media impressions? How about most times a trailer is watched before its release? The Academy themselves don’t seem to know how to answer that question either. This article explains it quite well.

The reality is that The Academy absolutely SHOULD add another category. Actually it should add a few. How and why it is that The Academy hasn’t done this yet completely confounds me as well as every filmmaker and storyteller from every notch of the totem pole. Here are some categories that The Academy must add. I’ll even tell you who should have Oscars already given to them retroactively with The Academy’s apologies from the last 20 years or so.  (more…)

Walt Disney vs. Stan Lee

walt-disney-stan-leeI read this article from Big Issue the other day featuring Mark Millar, the creator of Kick-Ass. It was about comparing Walt Disney and Stan Lee. It compared the differences each pioneer made to their respected franchises. In fact, they were more than pioneers. They were (and Stan Lee still is as of the posting date of this post) each an avant-garde to the worlds of animation, publishing, and more. I didn’t really agree with what the article said at all, but it got me thinking about the idea of Walt vs. Stan.

Who’s had (and still has) the bigger impact on society and why? Positively and negatively? Disney (the man) passed away in 1966 but the effects of his empire are still seen and felt pretty much every day of our lives and we will likely continue to be witness to them for the rest of time. Often times without realizing it. Do you watch ESPN or ABC? They’re owned by Disney. LucasFilms (the production company that brought you everything “Star Wars”), yep, you guessed it. Now property of the Walt Disney Corporation.

r4274226156Now here’s where things get confusing. Disney, as of 2009, also has part ownership in Marvel Comics (Stan Lee’s creations.) But this isn’t a business post or an exposé on irony. This is just to give you a basic understanding of just how much The Walt Disney Corporation has a Micky Mouse vice grip on. Mind you, everything I mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg and they’re each multi-billion dollar corporations on their own.

But back to the men themselves and the impact they have made. (more…)

Why Super Mario Maker On The WiiU Is A Great Representation of Life As An Artist

Super_Mario_Maker_ArtworkSuper Mario Bros. is officially turning 30 years old on September 13, 2015. (Boy, I feel old.) Over the past three decades, Mario and Luigi have had countless adventures where they’ve had to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser, scale Donkey Kong’s barrels, and race to the finish line to name a few. The Super Mario Bros. games have come a long way and evolved with the times beautifully. But for a lot of people (myself included), it’s still not enough. We want more!

I’ve written reviews in the past about previous Super Mario Bros. titles.

Super Mario Bros. (the original) 

Super Mario Bros. 3

Game hackers created alternate emulators of the game on their own with wonderful results. Some are even self-playing that result in a tribute to the game’s mechanics and physics. But the WiiU has just stepped it up in ways all gamers-from casual to hardcore alike-could only dream of for so long. Not only is Super Mario Maker a testament to the history of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, but to me it is also comparable to life as an artist. How is Super Mario Maker comparable to life as an artist?

Follow me down the warp zone on this one… (more…)

Hitman: Absolution Trailer — WTF!?!?

E3 starts on Monday and I, like all video game nerds, am so excited to see what’s new and going-to-be-improved in the world of gaming and console development.  Without question the biggest and most anticipated moments of E3 is when developers, marketing execs, and even the game producers themselves showcase their newest product (specifically a game.)  Obviously a majority of these games being showcased are targeted to the young-adult and adult male audience (gamer.)  A majority of these games have a high level of violence and offensive material within the main basis of the game.  With games looking more and more realistic these days, it’s easy to sometimes get lost with the realism of it.  “It’s only a game” is the broken record response that ping-pongs between all parties in support of video games that is just an updated slogan that my mother would say to me everytime I was too scared to sleep after watching a scary movie: “It’s only a movie.”

But every so often-fewer and further between nowadays-games do get negative reactions and responses for being TOO violent, TOO offensive, and TOO disturbing.  Such is the case for the new trailor released on the game Hitman: Absolution.  In a world that is very paranoid (and justifyably so at times) regarding certain forms of media “inspiring” for-lack of a better word-violent behavior and/or a false representation of the real world and I believe that the fact that the game looks so real is a potential problem for those gamers who may not be emotionally mature enough to play these games or even differentiate reality from fantasy.  The ESRB works just like a rating system for movies.  EC (Early Childhood), K-10 (Kids-Age 10), T (Teen), M (Mature), and AO (Adults Only) are the ratings breakdown.  The Hitman series have always received an “M” rating but based on this trailer alone, I would argue an “AO” rating which rarely happens for games released in the American market.  Several years ago when I was doing my Undergraduate work, I did an extensive study about violent video games and it’s psychological effect on gamers.  I swear that the cover I used for the binder was the cover art from Hitman 2.  You can read it here.  Killer Games (more…)

Online Dating (and the psycho-social centrifuge it spins us through)

Everyone wants to feel loved, right? We all want meaningful relationships in our lives. We want to be happy, feel fulfilled, etc. It’s even medically proven that being in a loving relationship throughout our lives will help us live longer. So how does one find that one special person? What steps does a person take to ensure or at least have the odds on their side that the will not only meet someone, but that that someone will be perfectly compatible for them?

In the good old days people relied on their friends who displayed certain levels of uncomfortable gittyness or annoyance and tried to set you up on a blind date. Friends tried to sell you on the notion that they suddenly had this “outside friend” for years that you’ve never met or heard of that would be perfect for you. All of the sudden they’re the best real estate agent in the world, only the “real estate” is this mystery person. Now depending on your mood, personality type, or level of desperation, you succumb to your friend’s flattery and before you know it you’re sitting in an overpriced restaurant with a stranger constantly checking that the fire exits haven’t been relocated since you last checked twelve seconds before. That’s all changed now…


Killer Games

IMG_0118Originally written August 2002

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went into Columbine High School armed with shotguns and dressed in trench coats.  They killed twelve students and a teacher in this high school in Littleton, Colorado.  They then killed themselves when they felt that their motives were made clear to those students who made fun of them in school everyday.
On April 15, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove a van into the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing hundreds of people.  He was executed several years later for his terrorist-like acts against humanity.  It was then one of the most severe massive homicide cases in United States history. (more…)

Comic Books As Experimental Film Media

imagesComics, or the concept of little animated squares in your daily newspaper, have been around almost as long as mass-printed newspapers themselves.  Over the last seven decades, comics and comic books have evolved into multi-billion dollar franchises that have launched the careers of writers, artist, video game designers, and movie directors.

Today, in 2009, a year where the printed word is on life support as newspapers struggle to stay afloat and bookstores and libraries dangle by an even thinner thread because of the massive development of the World Wide Web, comic book developers have looked to other mediums to keep their artistic form of storytelling not only alive, but also thriving. As mentioned, the film director is one type of artist that has thrived because of stories already immortalized through comic books.  Just like any other medium adaptation, he has very important decisions to make regarding how he wants to show his vision and interpretation to the moviegoers.  The director now has a very delicate balancing act on his hands because when making a movie based on stories that have such dedicated followers, his choice to follow the original storyline or not becomes a form of interpretive Russian roulette.
Comic books were first printed as a collection of duplicates of old newspaper comics.  It wasn’t until (more…)