Book | Thanks for asking, Fernando

In March, friend Fernando A. Funes (who shares some of his poetry and writing over here on his blog and over here on Instagram) asked on Facebook –

Here, I share my responses to Fernando –

The Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang

There are several stories in Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” collection of stories. (Introduced to this book back in 1999 … I gift it to others) I’ll share which stories later in my reply after looking through the list.

As a result of several stories, my mindset changed about what “present” means or can mean.

A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr

“A Civil Action” – Non-fiction, environmental related. (They made a movie out of it. Book better) I read this in 1997 as an “airplane” read because I am in the profession (regulatory compliance, environmental protection, etc.). From plane, to hotel room, to hotel lobby, to my hotel room bathroom (while my colleague was sleeping … I read all the way through. I cried.

In 2004, I learned one of my friends – his family was among those directly impacted by this series of event. So while it may not have resonated with me in 1997, since 2004, it remains a very dear book.

As a result of this book, it reinforced my feelings about business and personal accountability on impacts on the environment.

When The Elephants Dance, by Tess Uriza Holthe

“When The Elephants Dance” – by a Filipino-American author. Fiction, inspired by real-life stories, described as – “… inspired, in part, by the experiences of her father, who was a young boy in the Philippines during World War II.” I read this in 2004 or 2005. I was very moved by it. Having this be personal stories about true history … and written so lovely – keeper and gifted to others

THEN … my Mom read this after me. She said she cried. Turns out many of the experiences, she and my Dad also experienced as kid during World War II, etc. Sadly, my dad died in 2002, so I never had a chance to talk with him or have him also read the book.

Harold and The Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

And just my fave – Harold and The Purple Crayon – from a WAY EARLY AGE!




What is a book that changed your life and why?


Time | since June 2016, now time to write

“Choices are a privilege defined by circumstance. In this country, the circumstance is always racism, oftentimes poverty. The two combined strip our choices away to the minimum.”

– Mychal Denzel Smith
(from his book “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education”)

What?! June 2016 is the previous blog post to this one!

Well, it’s neither that I have forgotten about this blog nor that I don’t have anything to share.

My guess – life stuff (e.g., work, family, friends), including the 2016 presidential election and outcome. This post? A random list of things since June 2016 (and certainly not comprehensive), a few pictures, two things that continue to pop-up regularly as I navigate my thoughts, and why I’m posting. Oh! and Trump is a racist.

A few of my random tidbits since June 2016 include –

Mom’s 83rd birthday celebration with my brother and his family

December 2017 company dinner

  • reading quite a bit of non-fiction (books, blogs, journalists, researchers, etc.), particularly related to race and culture, including re-reading Jeff Chang’s Who We Be: The Colorization of America
  • … and keeping odd hours throughout the day and night.

Why posting today?  Just to get my thoughts/feelings out – I loathe that we have a racist President.  And there are times where I just … don’t want. Don’t want to listen to the news and like-kind. Don’t want to read about ridiculous shitty statements. Don’t want to piece together uninformed decisions. Don’t want to interact.

But then there are the thoughts that swim in my head or events that trigger thoughts … for the better.  This morning I had a conversation with a friend. I was reminded of two things that continue to pop-up regularly as I navigate my thoughts  –

  • narrative creation – What Favianna Rodriguez shared at a 2015 panel about the importance of culture and narrative (and this was BEFORE the presidential campaigns were in full swing) –
    … people defining culture are creating laws, affecting laws, etc.
    … culture surrounds us everyday … we form our opinions based on what’s around us, … allows us to define ourselves
    … narrative correction is important and narrative creation is important
    … stop being the NO culture … what does the YES look like?
  • L.O.V.E. from Love Deez Nutz, or Why Van Jones Is Wrong and Maybe Even a Bit of a Bullshitting Magical Negro, or Happy Friday from My Corner of Trump’s America–Whatever You Like–I’m Tired by Michelle R. Smith – a post that  shifted and impacted my thoughts about race, culture, allies, advocacy, and identity … and for which I continue to read Smith’s thoughtful writing

    “So fuck using love as a weapon for fighting racism. Unless you’re going to make love into an acronym. Unless you’re talking about

    eveling with people about their bigotry;

    Opting into confrontational political action aimed at definitive positive change;

    Voting in every election, not just the Presidential election, so the political process can benefit the oppressed inasmuch as it can in America; and

    Educating yourself about what the-hell the government is doing by reading real news and doing independent, academic research if necessary–yes–you should–knowing the shit that’s happening is that important–look at what just happened back in November. It was only a minute ago.”

My friend, David Ngo

After a morning of manifesting and visioning with several folks brought together by friend David Ngo, David and I spoke about collaborating on an endeavor. During my chat with David, I wept (anger, sadness, frustration) when I shared with him a few thoughts about the Trump Administration and DACA proceedings. Trump is a racist.

So to answer my question – “Why post today?” Partly, it’s a New Year thing. Partly, I have many thoughts about our racist President. Partly, I am finishing up Mychal Denzel Smith’s book. Partly, catharsis. Partly, I am awake and cannot sleep readily.

And mostly,  it’s time to write  – right, Fernando Funes?

Play | rance, improv, pretend, imagine

“Don’t try to do everything at the same time.
And don’t limit yourself to just improv.
Ultimately, you’re stressing out about how good you can pretend and how well you can imagine and make-believe.
So, like, give it – give it the play that it is.
And bring in other life experience to make your play better.”

– Rance Rizzutto


[photo from Episode 193]

The above quote is from Episode 193: Tara DeFrancisco & Rance Rizzutto, an interview by Jimmy Carrane (web, Improv Nerd blog, Facebook) for his Improv Nerd podcast. Carrane asked what advice would Tara and Rance give to new improvisors, and the above is from Rance’s response. I especially enjoyed hearing –

“Ultimately, you’re stressing out about how good you can pretend and how well you can imagine and make-believe.”

– which is the crux of improv – pretending, imagining, make believing. (Bravo!)

It was great hearing Rance’s voice. Rance (iO Chicago, web, Facebook) was one of my instructors at Chicago’s iO Five-Week Summer Intensive.


(actual size. to scale)

Among the five summer intensive improv instructors I had throughout the five weeks, Rance was my (and fifteen other new improv friends) Week 3 improv instructor specifically focused on two-person scenes.


Clockwise starting from top left: Rance, Eric, Chris, Minh-Anh, Will, Ben, Yury, Geoffrey, Ruta, Ginny, Aurelija, Shirley (self), Brittany, Kath, Tim, Simone, Jake

Rance’s closing response to Carrane’s question –

“And bring in other life experience to make your play better.”

–  reminded me of one of Rance’s suggestions encouragements, which boiled down to learn and experience new things. He suggested taking advantage of some of the discounted activities offered by providers such as Groupon and LivingSocial. There are conventional, as well as off-the-beaten-path, activities one can learn and experience, and such experiences can further enrich one’s improv play. Good stuff!

And admittedly, one of my several “ah ha” moments last year happened during my week with Rance. He shared –

surprise for a_ax

“Always be ready for a surprise.
Already be ready to surprise.” 

20150722_170519_ginny(I think of this like an hourglass where scenes are a series of surprises (and discoveries), and each improvisor can turn it [the scene] over and over to evolve the scene and relationship.) This came from one of our scene work exercises, which was described as Inspector Clouseau, from the The Pink Panther series. The exercise was based on the relationship between on Inspector Clouseau and his trustworthy servant, Cato. Cato was tasked to surprise Clouseau. (some clips online). Lucky me, one of my fave scenes (which i lovingly refer to as eyeball) was when I was paired up with the talented Ms. Ginny.

What do you think is the crux of improv? If you listened to Jimmy’s interview of Tara and Rance, what were some of your favorite moments?