Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mario Lopez. Bold and Beautiful.

On a lighter note...
One of my vices:
Bold and The Beautiful. Yeah, the soap.

One of my old vices: Saved By The Bell. Yeah, Saved By The Bell.

Not because of the SBTB storytelling, necessarily. Though there are some classic episodes on eating disorders and pills. Anyway... I thought Mario Lopez was just the icing on the cake, the lettuce on the tostada, the cream in the coffee... okay. You got it.

Now, he'll be joining the cast of the daytime drama, The Bold and The Beautiful, in March. He'll play a doctor, Dr. Cristian Ramirez. His on-screen brother... Lorenzo Lamas, who's been on the show for about two years now.

If you're a soap fan, you know folks are loyal to their channel: you're a Channel 2, 4, or 7 soap person. I grew up on the Channel 2 soaps, thanks to my grandma -- Young and Restless, World Turns, Guiding Light... now I'm strictly Y&R and B&B.

Anyway,,, that's my vice. And some lighter news for a Fat Tuesday :-)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Octavia Butler Died This Weekend

Octavia Butler died this weekend.

She's the author of Kindred, the novel I'm currently reading and loving. I'd just recently discovered her work and looked forward to a reading she was going to do on March 17 at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA. Would have been my first time meeting her and hearing her speak in person.

I'd recently written about the city of Pasadena selecting Kindred in the One City, One Story program. And a month ago I asked about your interest in Octavia Butler's work, several of you commented -- the most comments I'd gotten on one entry in a while. Indeed, Octavia Butler has a large fan base.

And tons of friends, including writer Steven Barnes, with his own special memories.

She will be missed for her contributions to the literary world and life in general... 1947 - 2006. Octavia Butler's official website.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Never Really Been Into Cartoons, But...

I kinda have a sneaky, funny, shouldn't-be-laughing affinity for the Drawn Together cartoon on Comedy Central.

I've only seen two or three episodes on television, since my schedule is kinda crazy and I'm not glued to the set lately.

Anyone seen it? Your thoughts?

Do any of you laugh at things you know you shouldn't laugh at? Or at things that aren't funny... but kinda make you chuckle anyway?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Can Anyone Write About Anything?

(image from friend's recent trip to Morocco)
So besides the Starbuck's conversation about long distance dating last night, as listed in the entry below, the other thing my friends and I were discussing was this: cultural appropriation and the idea of anyone writing about people who are not like them in novels.

It's an age-old discussion in many writers circles... the idea of someone of one ethnic background authentically writing a novel about someone of another ethnicity... the idea of a man writing authentically about the experience of women in a novel... and so on, and so forth.

I get asked the question a lot while doing book events. Many of my characters reflect the ethnic and sexual orientation diversity of Los Angeles, primarily black and brown and gay and bi and straight, and people are curious about that writing process. They want to know if it's research, just being authentically interested in learning about people, interviewing people, etc...

Of course any writer CAN. But SHOULD they... is another discussion. I think if writers are genuinely interested in reflecting people in culturally appropriate and responsible ways, they can and should write about the diversity in our worlds. But sometimes, people don't take the culturally appropriate or responsible route in reflecting the diversity of our worlds... especially when it comes to reflecting people who are not "the majority," no matter the category, and rely on stereotypes... or what they've heard, rather than what they've actually learned.

And then again, what is authentic? appropriate? responsible? And do writers have a responsibility to reflect all the dimensions of people -- the good and the bad -- in creating realistic fiction and characters? And... how do you feel when you find out the writer of a novel is completely different, in terms of background and life experience, that the novel or book you're reading? I know it happens in non-fiction a lot. But what about fiction?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Question Out Of Nowhere

Long distance dating. How many of you tried it? Succeeded at it? Failed at it? Vowed never again to attempt it? Have no suitable partners in your hometown, so you have to resort to it? Love having your space and independence because of it? Face numerous temptations because of it?

There's a very popular saying in Spanish: "amor de lejos, amor de pendejos..." which translates to long distance love is stupid love. Overheard some women in the 'bucks coffee house in my hood using the phrase tonight. And of course I had to check in to see what my peeps think.

Monday, February 20, 2006

San Diego Day

Heading to San Diego today for a reading and book discussion at Cal State San Marcos. Should be a lot of fun and a beautiful day to drive down the Pacific Coast from L.A. Thank God not a lot of traffic expected, due to the holiday. No traffic is a treat over here.

Funny thing. I know a lot of you are living where it truly is cold and you get lots of snow. Well, sometimes in Southern California we get a little spoiled in terms of weather.

This morning, it's 45 degrees in L.A. I had my car heater on 72, seat warmers on, and some people on the streets had on their hats, gloves, and scarves. That's a funny sight... given the perspective of how the weather is in other parts of the U.S. I don't know what it is about us in SoCali, but our bodies are very sensitive to what we consider cold weather.

Anyway... still reading
Kindred by Octavia Butler... almost done. Highly recommended. Looking forward to the new one by Pearl Cleage which comes out in about a week, Baby Brother's Blues.

Highlight from the weekend. Meeting Doris Robert, the grandma from Everybody Loves Raymond. She hosted a special cabaret night of the Gay Men's Chorus of L.A. Very nice woman with perfect comedic timing... I guess that's why she's won five Emmy Awards.

Anyway, off to San Diego. Have a great day!

Friday, February 17, 2006

What's Up?

So I went to San Francisco a couple days ago for a reading/panel and it was great. Many thanks to Stewart, who organizes black-focused book events for the San Francisco Public Library system.

I shared the stage with Jewell Gomez, a Lambda Literary Award winner, who writes fiction with a feminist sci-fi twist, while tackling issues of ethnicity, gender, and class. She was great to share time with. It's always double the fun to have events with more than one writer.

So Jewell does a little science fiction, I did a little science fiction of my own. Let me tell you, I am love love LOVING Octavia Butler's Kindred. Great read! For all of you who told me so... you were right! And if you haven't picked it up, I'm telling you so. For reals...

In other news, I'm still awaiting the exact publication date of my next novel. My guess is summer 2007, and my hope is that it's a July release date... much like we had for Down For Whatever. I'll keep you posted. Like you, writers are in a constant state of waiting.

While I'm excited about writing, I also keep a day job. A very fun day job. And I am taking on more responsibilities that make me happy, nervous, excited, and secure that I can continue to support my writing and university life at the same time. Dual careers. One person. It's possible. I know many writers who have dual careers... they write and they do something else to support their writing. And the one's who step out and write only... I'm super excited for them. Every artist type, hopefully, will have that day when they decide: dual or single career.

Congrats to my writer friend who just got picked up by a literary agent! I'm super happy for you! No names yet.

So that's what's up. Have a great three day weekend!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

San Francisco Day

Off to San Francisco for the day for the following:

Beautiful Diversities:
A Black History Month Celebration
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

6:30 - 8 pm
SF Public Library, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch
3555 16th St, south of Market

Join authors Jewell Gomez (Don't Explain) and Frederick Smith (Down For Whatever) as they read from their work and discuss representations of the black LGBT community in fiction.

Please call the library at 415.355.5616 for more information.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


If any of you have been to L.A.'s nightclubs, specifically West Hollywood and other boy spots in L.A., you've met this woman. Because she greets you with her familiar sales phrase, "R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-osas???"

She sells roses. Many have jokingly nicknamed her Rosario, because of her rose/club business. But we all love her and love rolling our Rs as we say and buy our r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-osas.

I have been a busy boy lately. Many of you know that I am a writer who supports his writing life by working at a university. And lately, I have taken on more responsibilities which require more of my time during and beyond the designated work hours, and even some weekends, as was the case this past weekend. I'm learning a lot and seeing my to-do list grow by leaps and bounds. It's a good thing.

But... that's what you do when you're committed to your work and career. The hours don't matter. Doing a great job, maintaining relationships, finishing on time, going BEYOND expectations are the things that matter. Especially when young minds are the recipients of your work. The students matter. At least to me anyway.

So, I haven't been going out much. But my social and writing lives are still fairly active. Sleep? What's sleep? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Anyway, I get Daily Candy everyday in my mailbox. Today's entry, What in Carnation?, is a fun play on words related to Valentine's Day. Read it... and laugh to your heart's content. And next time you're in L.A., get a rose or a couple dozen from our friend. Or better yet, go buy some flowers for yourself one day this week... just because!

Have a good one!

Friday, February 10, 2006

20s. 30s. 40s. Beyond.

Found a really fun blog site this week, Thirties Are Sexiest, where thirtiesh people, events, and things are highlighted and celebrated. It's a fun place to visit.

Got me thinking about all the words of wisdom, cliches, and phrases that discuss the joys and perils of aging.

One, that I heard a lot while growing up was that the 20s are all about discovering yourself, traveling, setting your foundation in a positive way... so that the "little" things you worry about in your 20s aren't worrying you in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. I think that's why my parents and family emphasized education, not wasting time with education, but also having fun while on the journey.

I also heard things like: do NOT get married, or in a serious relationship, in your 20s... because you don't know who you are or what you really want in a partner.

I heard that in your 30s, you FINALLY get it! Whatever... it... is. At the same time, I also heard, mostly from same-age peers: 30 is old.

Now, of course we all know 30 isn't old. It's just the beginning. Especially if we're given, on average, 70 - 80 years to live and prosper with.

And, of course, I only have the 20s and 30s lifestyle to speak to... and I value the words, wisdom, and experiences of those who have lived longer than me.

What are your thoughts on aging?

In the meantime, one of my favorite poems on life, age, and experience is "Seven Women's Blessed Assurance" by Maya Angelou, as published in The Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. I just love it... especially when I've heard Dr. Angelou perform it. Her voice really reflects each of the women she writes of in the poem.

Seven Women's Blessed Assurance

One thing about me,
I'm little and low,
find me a man
wherever I go.

They call me string bean
'cause I'm so tall.
Men see me,
they ready to fall.

I'm young as morning
and fresh as dew.
Everybody loves me
and so do you.

I'm fat as butter
and sweet as cake.
Men start to tremble
each time I shake.

I'm little and lean,
sweet to the bone.
They like to pick me up
and carry me home.

When I passed forty
I dropped pretense,
'cause men like women
who got some sense.

Fifty-five is perfect,
so is fifty-nine
'cause everybody needs
to rest sometime.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Brought The Sunshine. The Clark Sisters.

If you grew up in Detroit like I did, or with any sort of family inclination toward gospel music, you know who The Clark Sisters are. They're gospel music legends.

Fast forward some years later, and you're listening to morning radio in L.A., and hear The Clark Sisters classic song, "You Brought The Sunshine." And it makes your day.

Such an inspirational song.

They're "friends in my mind" as my buddy Prodigal Sun would say, lol. (Oh, and his birthday is tomorrow, Feb 10, by the way, so wish him well!).

But I have met Twinkie Clark, in 1997ish, when I chaired a GospelFest committee while at University of San Francisco, and she was the headliner performer. And met her nephew, who was studying art or music in San Fran at the time. Nice people.

Will get to meet and see another Clark Sister, Dorinda Clark-Cole, as she headlines a "Get Your Praise On!" Gospel Celebration in a couple weeks in L.A., on February 25 at the Luckman Fine Arts Gallery.

"You Brought The Sunshine" is a gospel music classic... well, a modern-era gospel classic... and one that can brighten up your day at any time of the day.

And indeed, the sunshine has been brought in L.A., where this week we've had sunny temps in the 80s and 90s.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Couldn't Help But Be Moved

After a long day of meetings, a groundbreaking ceremony, and transitioning into new responsibilities in the day job, I finally was able to sit down and watch the funeral services for Coretta Scott King on C-Span late at night.

I couldn't help but be moved. And cry. And reflect. And I'm sure many of you already watched it, but if you didn't, I think Keith Boykin summed it up really well on his site... and I'm sure many of you have read that already.

If you don't know me, I do get deeply moved by inspirational people, messages, and speeches. Yesterday, I felt deeply inspired by all that Mrs. King did in public and private as shared by her friends and family members.

And I always wonder, after hearing and experiencing such words: Am I doing enough? Am I using my life for the betterment of humanity? Both literally and philosophically.

Of course today, the news folks are saying that people like Rev. Joe Lowry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Jimmy Carter politicized the funeral. But in my opinion, they simply spoke on the social justice and peace issues that Mrs. King dedicated her life to. And... does Bill Clinton still have the respect and admiration... and know how to connect with... the black community or what?

I couldn't help but be moved.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Kindred. One City, One Story.

A few days ago you might recall that I wrote about author Octavia Butler and asked for your feedback on what to start reading by her (view Octavia Butler entry here). I got a ton of responses through the blog and off line. Thanks.

Well, the city of Pasadena, California has chosen Octavia Butler's novel, Kindred, as its 2006 selection for the One City, One Story program.

This is a yearly city-wide initiative which seeks to get the entire city -- from schools and students to readers and regular folks -- to unite around reading the same title... and then engaging in a number of city-sponsored discussions and events throughout the year around the book.

So I've started reading Kindred. And it's good... and even if you don't live in Pasadena, you can join the bandwagon, too... and maybe we'll have our own discussion here in a few weeks. What do you think?

The Grammy Gusher.

Even though I live in L.A., and it's quite a regular thing to see public figures on the streets, it's still a treat to see and meet folks up close and in person. I'm such a gusher. Not in the annoying, in your face kinda way, but more of an in my mind... kinda gusher.

The Grammy Awards take place this Wednesday in L.A., celebrating the best in music of the past year. On a total whim, I decided to go out to The Abbey in West Hollywood last night, after attending a very cool performance at Space (where, by the way, if in L.A. you can catch Sheryl Lee Ralph perform this Tuesday evening... at no cost.)

Anyway, glad I went to The Abbey. Many of your and my favorite musicians, their stylists, and their "people" were hanging out, relaxing, being themselves, while in L.A. for the Grammy Awards.

Total fun. Only wish I'd taken my camera. But then, that would make me a paparazzi gusher... and that's definitely not cool.

Friday, February 03, 2006

L.A.: Herndon Davis. Space. Pan African Film Fest.

Herndon Davis, of the Herndon Davis Reports talk show, is having a party that is also serving as a fundraiser in L.A. on Sunday, February 12. It's at one of the newest hotspots in L.A. -- ICandy, which is a fun place with lots of pretty people. For more information, check out Herndon's official website. (Thanks Herndon for having me on your show this season!)

Also, if you're in L.A. anytime during February, I'd encourage you to check the Black History Month events happening at Space At Fountain's End. Upcoming performers include Tonya Pinkins, Michael Datcher, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. And most of the events are free or very low cost.

Finally, the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival is coming up in a few days. Some great films will be screened. See entire film list here.

Have a nice Friday... and weekend!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Let's Talk About Sex...

(Image from Anne Taintor...

Besides this being one of my favorite Salt-N-Pepa songs, it's also a topic of academic and scholarly research by one of my professional colleagues and friends in L.A., Janet Lever.

She's doing a poll for Elle Magazine/MSNBC entitled: Hot Monogamy.

Basically, she and the research group want to know how much do sex lives grow or fizzle when in a relationship. If you're not in a relationship, there's questions for you too.

To take the survey, click here:

It'll be up until February 14, and results and analysis will be shared this May in Elle and MSNBC... and most likely The Today Show, as Janet Lever has been a contributor to the show and others on the topics of sex and relationships in contemporary U.S. (click here for a previous poll and results by Janet Lever for Today Show).

The current survey in inclusive/sensitive to all sexual orientations. I have no part or vested interest in the survey... just passing along word to help increase the research pool for Dr. Lever and company.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I Tried. I Gagged. I Stopped.

Now get your minds out the gutter... because I'm talking about the State of the Union address last night. All 52 gut-wrenching minutes of it.

I tried to watch. I gagged at most of what I heard. I stopped to catch my breath.

But I did continue watching. Because I wanted to be informed of the latest smoke and mirrors talk coming from Washington.

For some it's paranoia (oops, I mean reality), for me... it's the longest running stage production that I'm forced to watch... and no, I'm not moving to Canada or anywhere else for that matter, because I still have hope we'll undo most of the mess created since 2000 before I die in say... 50+ years from now.

Thank God for alternative and rebuttal talk like opinions like this, or Air America, or KPFK in L.A. (there's stations like this in your area). At least I know I'm not alone in my thinking... I'm not, am I? Sometimes it feels like it.

If you're not registered to vote, please do so. You can do it here at Rock The Vote.

I'm really trying to understand the mindset of people who support the current administration -- especially those people of color, women, LGBT, and other historically-oppressed populations.

In fact, I'm trying to write a character like this in a story I'm working on, but I swear it's hard because I just want want to paint him as a one-dimensional stupid person without any thought, compassion or humanity. There's gotta be some there, right?

Well, if I'm successful in creating this character and weaving him into the story I'm working on, I hope you won't gag. And I hope you won't stop reading.