Forever Moments

In the documentary Spielberg on Spielberg, Spielberg said his main job was to connect his audience to his films. I'd say that's the job of every artist who wants their work to be seen by the world.  How do you do that?

Chinese Connection.  Sorry.  Had a Bruce Lee moment.

Emotional connection.

Underdog stories are very emotional.  All of us can relate because at some point we've been the underdog.  I'm working on becoming a published author.  I feel like underdog.

An artist's initial job is to feel.  Seems obvious, right?

I've asked people about how they felt when they watched a movie, read a book, seen a photograph.  What's the most common answer?

I don't know.

Feel yourself out (get your mind out of the guttah).

Whenever something moves you, ask yourself why it moves you.  If something doesn't move you, then ask why.  The answers will amaze you.  When I started acting, my teachers always said my body was the instrument.  Use it.  Feel it.  Live it.

Forever moments.

Every year the carnival comes to town.  They've been coming since I was a kid.  One year I took my girlfriend at the time and bought a ride-till-you-throw-up pass.  We rode all of the stomach churning rides.  Walked through exhibits like the double headed rubber rat (huh?), a wax figure of a fat bearded lady (what?), and a pickled snake with mutant feet (a lizard?).  Then our nerves were tried at the haunted house.  Only half the stuff worked.  A vampire ain't that scary when it can barely pop out of its coffin.  We talked to carnies.  Many of them stared at my ex through their good eye.

There were two things that I remember most.  It was her first time at a carnival, and she was excited.  Every time she got excited her voice would rise, and she'd sound like a little girl.  Despite the jungle of carnival noise, her voice sounded like music.  Touched me like no other voice has touched me.  Yes, I was in love.

She'd never eaten carnie food, so I bought a tray full.  As we dug in, she wanted a bite of my corn dog.  I dipped it in mustard and she took a bite.   "Mmmm," she said.  In that forever moment, all I remembered was sharing that corn dog.  There was one more bite left.  So I let her have it.

I read something in her eyes.  I got up and bought another dog on a stick.  Another forever moment strolled by as we shared in the goodness.

And every year the carnival comes to town, the sound of her voice and the forever moment sharing the corn dog permeates my mind.

My mom and I went to a restaurant one time.  The hostess sat us at a small side table.  Sheer drapes were drawn to shade us from the afternoon sun.  Old Chinese ladies rolled aluminum carts of dim sum.  Since my Cantonese wasn't great, my mom ordered.  We made small talk as we enjoyed good food and the warm sun.  My mom kept my tea cup filled and continued to order dim sum.  She wanted me fat.  Still does.  When the bill came she pulled out an old leather coin purse, and popped it open.  She meticulously counted each bill and each coin and made sure there was enough tip.  She looked at me and giggled, asking me if I'd had enough to eat.  I shook my head.  That day has become one of my favorite birthdays.

Forever moments.

Judmental Is Mental

One of the biggest things my character has to deal with is judgement from the people he serves to protect. They don't realize what he's doing is protecting them from a Hitleresque fate. I was at the gym and saw this girl. Cute. Then it happened. "Her eyes are too Asian," I said to myself.

Huh?

First off every one is perfect in their own way. It's why there isn't a perfect cherry blossom. No such thing. Because every blossom is perfect (From The Last Samurai). This applies to humans as well. Once we start comparing one to another is when this Eastern way of looking at things deteriorates.

When I was practicing crap martial arts, see my bio, we were given a special treat. Our teacher brought in a Chinese Kung Fu teacher to teach us a Chinese form. A form is a series of martial art movements against imaginary opponents. By the way, that in itself is not the best way to learn how to fight. And what makes a form Chinese? The slantiness of the movement?

As my friend and I practiced the form--we're both Chinese--we were marvelling at how different the movement was from the daily crap that we practiced. Keep in mind I didn't know I was studying crap martial arts till I was awakened.

One of the supervising instructors came to us and said, "You're too Chinese," referring to our movement.

My friend and I looked at each other. Then looked at our non-Chinese supervising teacher.

"Nooooo," I said. "Wouldn't want to be too Chinese." Were our eyes extra slanty?

Everbody knows not to be judgemental. Even those who are aware of why can place judgement on others. We are after all human. It's the conscious practice of being non-judgemental that's important. Not the mistakes of when we are. But if you're not aware that judgement is wrong, is the person still to blame?

I can't say. And neither does the hero of my book. So what does he do? Continues to serve despite the hate he gets from doing so.

In Bruce Lee's only filmed interview he was asked if he wanted to be thought of as Chinese or a North American. He was born in San Francisco. He said he wanted to be thought as a human being.

Here's an experiment: Spend an hour without placing judgement on others. If you do, no problem. Just start the hour over. See how long you can do it.

Honestly Express Yourself

One of the things you don’t do is drink Diet Coke at night. Because it may keep you up. Feeling a bit alone, I surfed the late night cable channels. I’ve come across one of my rising favorites, the History Channel.  They showed a documentary called How Bruce Lee Changed the World. It shows how Bruce Lee changed the world.

See myadventurewhen I visited his grave site

Obviously, he changed the film industry greatly with his action films. He introduced martial arts to America. He helped changed philosophy. He broke the rules of classical martial arts, taught that the study of multiple martial arts was important, giving rise to the now popular MMA (mixed martial arts). The biggest promoter, UFC, gives him credit as the first MMA. He’s definitely influenced my book in more ways than I realize.

The cool thing about this Bruce Lee documentary, there have been many, is they’ve taken a look at popular culture and credit the Little Dragon for his influence.

Bret Ratner, director of Rush Hour, used the music composer from Enter the Dragon to compose the music for his first movie. The hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan was deeply influenced by Bruce Lee and Hong Kong action films. Their first album sampled music from those movies, and aptly named their album Enter the Wu-Tang. Marketing companies still use Bruce Lee today to increase their brand. If you search youtube.com for “Bruce Lee” and “ping-pong”, you’ll see the most current example. Bodybuilders today marvel at his muscular definition. Most action films can find their heritage to any of his films. And many more.

Bruce Lee was important to me because he was Chinese. I’m not being ethnocentric. What most people don’t realize is Bruce Lee had a difficult time becoming a leading man in Hollywood back in the day for one reason only.

He was Chinese.

He could’ve been Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or any Asian descent. His slanty eyes presented a problem. Bruce Lee encountered a lot of resistance, despite his deep connections in Hollywood’s elite.

So what kept him going?

He knew this was his path. He knew where his passions lie. In his words, “...honestly express yourself...” Follow your heart and treasures beyond your dreams will come.

If he were to teach one thing, it’s this.

The greatest mystery in life is finding what it is you’re passionate about. So many have settled down for the mundane job because it pays the bills.  It's one thing to have a day job.  It's important to have a 'night' job. For those who’ve found it, and know it is their truth, then you have succeeded where most have not. And I’ll paraphrase from the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: It’s never too late to start, it’s ok to start over, but the most important thing is to do. Break the rules if you have to, as Bruce Lee has, as long as it furthers your art, your passion. Just do it. Do it. Do.

How to be Ageless

One of the things I indirectly explore in my fantasy is age. I was out with some friends the other night and one of the girls harped on my age, worried I'd be the oldest. Among the group, I was the oldest. I'm thirty six. It's a freakin' number. Mentally I feel real good. Physically I feel fantastic. Spiritually, I feel present when I want to be. I'm still learning. Maturity wise, I'm in my early teens. I laugh at farts. I crack up at groin shots in movies. I tell jokes no one ever gets. Or if they do they don't want to let me know cuz it'll show how imature they are. It's part of my sensibility. One thing I don't do is think about my age. I love writing my book, working on this website, fantasizing about my stories, watch almost half of the movies that are released, including the crappy ones. I do things that I love, I eat healthy six days out of the week, exercise 4 days a week, and laugh as much as possible.

This, to me, is how to be ageless.

Stop thinking about it and delve into what you love. For age IS a number, never a state of mind or a place in your life. There are teenagers in the world who are millionaires. Who's to say they can't be because they're so young?

Don't place limits on yourself because of age.

Look at all that Bruce Lee has accomplished. He graduated from Washington University. He started a small chain of martial arts schools. Got married and had two kids. Developed a philosophy of martial arts that is still prevalent today. Did some tv acting. Through that he became a huge movie star in Asia that gave him the opportunity to star in a Hollywood movie when most industry leaders said he'd never make it as a leading man in America. He'd published several books. All this and more was accomplished by the age of 32.

Don't focus on your age. It doesn't matter. Do what you love, and love what you do. And if you allow it, everything else will fall info place.

Spiritual Experience With Bruce Lee Part 2

Over to my left I saw something that was kind of creepy.  Maybe not creepy, but made me ask if this was really happening?  In a large empty space of green grass, pooled in the middle were a flock of black crows.  There must have been a hundred.  Maybe more?  Less?  I didn't sit and count.  Didn't know if I was going to be pecked to death. Keeping my distance, I started to walk along a winding cement path.  Through the trees and around the grass the flock of crows followed me.  Or coincidentally flew at the same place that I strolled, despite the ocean of land all around me.

Then a back of a tomb stone caught my eye.  Beside it was another tombstone that was also very familiar.  I calmly strolled around to the front.  I knew.  I'd found him.  I've seen pictures of his tombstone before, and there was no mistaken this was Bruce's.  To the right lay his son, Brandon.

During the time I was taking acting classes back in college, I'd wondered if Bruce had any children.  I never thought to find out before.  Bruce had two, and his son was an actor.  It was sort of finding out that Jesus had children.  And yes, I loved reading the Da Vinci Code.  I dreamed about working with Brandon.  Soon after, a tragic accident resulted in his death.  So sad.

In front of the grave site a marble bench sat.  An engraving lined the edge of it, but I don't remember what it said.  I paid my respect, bowed three times, sat on the bench and had a conversation with one my idol.  Yes, call me weird.  Then it happened.

A single black crow landed on a tombstone next to Brandon's.

I looked at it.  It looked at me.  I know what you're thinking.  No, it didn't talk to me.  Nor did I talk to it.  Now, when this was going on, I didn't time it.  But the crow sat there for a long time.  Long enough for me to be weary of my vulnerable eyes.  Suddenly...it attacked me.  I got up ran away, flailing my arms.

Just kidding.

It kept looking at me and, moments later, flew off.  Moments later, I left.  The whole experience was surreal, spiritual, and it's been something that I've wanted to do, and done it.

So you're saying the crows and crow landing by me was a coincidence.  Perfectly understandable.  On my last day, I went back to the cemetery to say one final good-bye.  I entered Lakeview Cemetery.  There were a lot more sparrows and not a single crow.

I flew back home feeling a connection, energized, with a pretty cool story to tell my dates.  Oddly enough, they don't continue seeing me.  Hmmm.

Spiritual Experience with Bruce Lee

Spiritual Experience with Bruce Lee:  Part 1 With most Asian boys of my generation, Bruce Lee was da man.  Not only did he kick butt, but he always had a reason to do it.  When I was a kid, I'd fantasized:

"Hey you," said some kid.

"What did you say to me?" I said.

"Gimme your lunch money."

"You offend me, you offend my familee!"  I pointed at him, swipe my nose with my thumb.  "Whoppah!"

That was as far as my dialogue would go before I dealt some serious whoopin' of the rear end.  I was a kid.  Around my teens years I'd discovered Bruce had been buried in Seattle, WA.  Just a couple of states above me.  Since then I've wanted to go on a quest to find Mr. Lee.

One year, my company forced us to go on non-paid vacation to save money.  I decided to fly up to Seattle and begin my Indiana Jones type search.  I was actually kinda anxious.  Bruce is buried in Lakeview Cemetery.  I fly into Seattle and ask the hotel clerk where Lakeview is.  They inform me it's like 5-6 hours north.

What?!

Did I fly in the wrong city?  No!  I swore it was Seattle.  I turned to the net, searched, and bam.  Lakeview was 30 minutes away.  Whew!

It was a gray, sprinkly day, and I zoom down the highway with anticipation.  At this point in my life, I've read and studied the legend, so there was this energy around me during the trip.  The cemetery was pretty easy to find.  I park my studly rental, a Kia four door, and step onto the wet asphalt.  I look for a map like the kind you find at a mall that says, you're here--big black arrow--Bruce is here--big red dot.  There was no such map.  A few brown sparrows landed on a patch of green but soon flew off.

I enter the large iron gates.  Whoa!

There must have been a few thousand tomb stones.  Most had names like Yang, Chang, Lang, Dang.  Dang it!  A lot of Asian people.  There were Lee's, Chong's, Chu's...it was like trying to find the needle in a needle stack.  Thirty minutes roaming around where dead people are, and I couldn't find da man.

Then I noticed something weird, something strange.  Was it a coincidence?

Come back tomorrow and check out part two.