I've decided that if I am going to continue on as an artist and a musican, I need to do so on my own terms.
Sharing this video is a step in that direction . . .
I just spent this last weekend in Decatur, Alabama as a guest performer for the annual Persacon anime conference. This was my first "Con", as they like to call it, and I had a supreme blast!! Here are some photos to prove it: First off, on my way down to Decatur, I came across a gargantuan rocket, LITERALLY! I had to pull off I-65 to check it out and fulfill my stereotypical Asian-ness by whipping out my camera and taking pictures. Isn't it awesome? Here's the info for it: Alabama is a lovely state with endless fields of green stretching out into the horizon . . . The town of Decatur, Alabama sits on the banks of the Tennessee river . . . Here was my merchandise table with my CD and posters for sale: Then, of course, some awesome shots with Persacon attendees . . . [caption id="attachment_1360" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Chillin' with a Storm Trooper (Awesome!)"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1361" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="An epic battle dare I say?"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1364" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="My friend Chris from The Man Power rockin' out!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1367" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Afterwards, trying to get Toby to smile."][/caption] Oreo and Buttercup also came along for the trip, but mainly ventured off on their own . . . [caption id="attachment_1368" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Lingering in the marshes of the Tennessee River"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1369" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Waiting for a train to pass (YIKES!!)"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1370" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="A Piggy-Back ride on a huge tower."][/caption] On Friday night, I was the performer for the opening ceremony. Here was the setlist: 1. Mr. Stranger 2. Arabesque 3. This Is Love 4. Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover) 5. Torrid 6. Fear 7. Gertrude Is a Boy 8. Villain On Saturday's setlist, I played all of these songs again along with several others . . . Confession Up To You Pale Sunshine Play the Pain Away The Gardener Shadows Dance Swirl Never Is a Promise (Fiona Apple cover) Baker Baker (Tori Amos cover) When Doves Cry (Prince cover) Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis cover) I Wanna Have Sex With You (improvised Man Power cover) Fur Elise (Beethoven cover/Gordon Roque version) This Saturday set took place in the main arcade/holi-dome space. Several people waltzed and danced to my songs. One person, a classical ballet dancer, took the floor all by herself and danced to my song "Swirl" (the hidden track on my album). It was mesmerizing. She was completely in sync the my every intonation and wilting cadence. I'll never forget this as long as I live. All in all, this was an incredibly memorable weekend. I met so many great and kind people from all over Alabama, Mississippi (Tupelo), and Tennessee. There are even a couple of folks I really connected with, and I hope we stay in touch for a very long time . . . . It was also a pleasure to hang out with my friends The Man Power (comprised of the ridiculously talented Chris Sexxx, David Debauchery, Cody War Hammer, and Night Stick) and the smokin' awesome Texas-based band Electric Attitude!! Thankfully, the Persacon organizers got me a very cozy hotel room and fed me some delicious food all weekend. They were all so sweet and accommodating. I even managed to sell a few CD's. (Imagine that!) I LOVE PERSACON!!!!! I will look back fondly to this experience for many years to come! -gordo
Welcome to the Oreo Gallery!! It is here where you can view all of the adventures of a traveling miniature baby grand piano named Oreo and her trusted sidekick Buttercup (the rowdy bench). They are on a mission to travel all around the world.
During the last episode, Oreo finally went on her blind date with OP, also kind of known as Optimus Prime. They shared a delicious and bountiful gourmet spread on a bench in a private, lakeside location. Little did they know that they were being watched . . . Buttercup took it upon herself to make sure all was okay. In fact, she and Oreo originally came up with a Plan B should the date be a ghastly affair with someone she would not want to date . . . Plan B involved Oreo briefly interrupting the date to use the bathroom. She would then secretly launch a tiny little rocket into the air once she was far enough away. At about 5,000 feet in the sky, the rocket would explode into about a thousand red and yellow sparks. Once B sees this signal back at the house, she would whip out her cell phone to call a courier to deliver a hand-written note. The note would say that there is an emergency back at the house. Oreo would then have to leave in a hurry, and the date would be done. Buttercup decided to scrap Plan B and just go down to the lake herself to watch things unfold . . . As it turned out, the date seemed to be going just fine from a distance. She could clearly see Oreo blushing at every word, her piano keys holding back the urge to lightly flutter all over the place. Buttercup saw OP change into a robot, and she also thought it was quite impressive. (She gasped saying "Ay Papi!! Hubba Hubba" under her breathe when it happened.) Even though Buttercup was disappointed that she would not get to see the tiny rocket being launched, she felt better knowing that she could go back home to play Sudoku. Suddenly, she heard someone say "Hello" . . . She turned around to find a little yellow car and just stared at it for a couple of seconds. She said "Hello" back, and their conversation went a little something like this . . .Buttercup (B): Um, who are you? BB: My name is Bumblebee. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I could not help but notice that you were watching my friend Optimus Prime on his date. I was doing exactly the same thing when I saw you. I thought I might come by and introduce myself. B: Out of curiosity, can you change just like OP did into some sort of robot? BB: Yes. Suddenly, in a flash of grinding metal, Bumblebee transformed . . .B: Whoa!!!!! That is so AWESOME!!! BB: Thank you. Just like Optimus Prime, I am one of a legion of Autobots who fight to preserve peace and uphold justice in the universe. You are a friend of the little piano?B: Yes. The piano's name is Oreo. I am her piano bench. My name is Buttercup. Do you know the Asian as well?BB: Yes, I do. I met him through OP a few years ago. The Asian is the one who taught me how t0 play Sudoku. I love Sudoku.B: Shut Up!! I love Sudoku too!!!! I was just about to head home to play a little bit. There is nothing like the feeling of finishing a Sudoku puzzle!!!BB: For me, the beauty of seeing a random grouping of numbers come together in such a cohesive way is a true work of art. It gives me hope that our world does not have to be so chaotic. There is connection, inherently, between all things.B: I like to make my number "9's" into smiley faces!! It's like cool and stuff. (Insert awkward pause HERE.) Buttercup suddenly felt herself blushing at the sight of this hunky, golden-yellow Autobot standing before her. She hadn't felt this way in a long time. Bumblebee, on the other hand, felt differently. While he thought she was cute and very sweet, he didn't feel any real connection with her. Buttercup attempted a very smooth invitation to play some Sudoku together some time . . . .B: It is such a pretty day. Gosh, I smell weird. Um, wanna play Sudoku some time? Strangely enough, there was a bizarre explosion about a mile up in the sky just as she finished saying this.BB: Well, ummmm, sure. Why not? (He did not have the heart to turn her down.) Out of nowhere, a courier arrived and gave a message to Bumblebee. Quickly, he transformed back into a cute yellow car . . .BB: I hate to cut this short, but I just got a note from that courier saying that there is an emergency back at my home. I must leave right away. It was very nice to meet you.B: Okay, I'll send a note through Oreo and OP about Sudoku!!BB: Umm, okay?B: Bye!BB: Bye! In a flash, Bumblebee sped off into the distance, leaving Buttercup to linger on as he disappeared . . . She was smitten and utterly beside herself. Our little Buttercup was in love . (Stay tuned for another episode of The Adventures of Oreo and Buttercup.)
I feel like I've been cast under a dark and fuzzy haze over the past week with shadows and bursts of soft and gloomy light pulsing in and out of focus all around me. The untimely passing of my nephew, Francisco Kitiona Marcelo, has been a heartbreaking ordeal. My family and I are still reeling in its aftermath. I wanted to take the time to tell my nephew's story, as seen from the perspective of a loving uncle. I do this now to preserve my own sweet memories of him and to honor his life . . . This story, as it relates to me, began back in September. I was getting ready to leave town to do a show in Charlotte, NC one night when my younger sister Lloyda called. After a bit of small talk, she confided in me that she was pregnant. I was surprised and actually a little excited by the news though I honestly was concerned about the struggles that come with impending motherhood. I left it to her to tell the rest of the family in her own time while I bit my lip and shared her growing secret with no one. According to the math, the baby was to be born some time in April of 2010. I was relieved to have plenty of time to prepare for this new addition. I was looking forward to a baby shower and finding all kinds of baby clothes once we knew the gender. (I LOVE shopping for little babies. Ugh. It just kills me how cute their clothes are!) These plans, as it happens, were hugely altered when my sister suddenly and unexpectedly gave birth early--on a Saturday morning, October 24, to be exact. I remember this day so vividly. I got the call from my older sister Leth early that morning that Lloyda gave birth. I rushed to pick up my brother-in-law Danny and went straight to the hospital. Lloyda was at the Centennial Women's Hospital in the West End area of downtown Nashville. I walked through the first floor lobby and passed by the little glass gift shop full of newborn balloons and tchotchkes of all kinds. Ordinarily I would have stopped for a minute and bought some cute baby stuff, but I was too worried about the fact that the baby was born WAY too early. When Danny and I finally made it to Lloyda's room, I looked straight at her face, and I saw exactly what I was expecting. She had this glow about her. The kind of glow I've only seen on women who have just given birth. She had the face of a new mom, and I was so happy for her. We all sat together (myself, my two sisters, Danny, and our dear friend Maria), and posted messages on Facebook announcing the birth of the baby, smiling all the while. Not too long ago, I was nine-years-old when Lloyda came into our family's life. I was old enough to hold her when she was a baby. I changed her diapers and adored her like everyone else did. I was as happy to be an older brother as I was happy to be an uncle. The baby was a boy who would be named Francisco Kitiona Marcelo--named after a close friend of Lloyda's and our wonderful brother-in-law Danny). On that same day, we would all head up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to see him for the first time. My older sister led me in to the secured area where they keep all the pre-mature babies. I had to wash my hands for three full minutes and put on a snazzy little hospital robe over my clothes. We walked to the end of the room, and there he was--with what looked like a gazzillion tubes plugged into him. He was SO TINY!!! I had never seen an actual premie baby in person until that moment. He looked so delicate and frail. (In fact, my first impulse was to look the attending nurse straight in the eye and say, "If anything happens to him, I swear to God I'll kick your ass!!" But then, I thought "Calm down Asian, it's gonna fine.") He was encased in a glass incubator-thingy-majigy--as I prefer to call it. As I stood there looking at him for the first time, I vowed to him that I would be there to cheer him on and help him get better. I've always believed that you could manifest great things just by imagining and thinking them. I tried to imagine a slightly older version of this tiny baby--a cute, fat, and plump little boy running in a wide open field. He'd be playing football with his cousins and figuring out how to hold his own against them. (His cousins are an assertive, formidable brood. He'd grow tough and strong just like them.) I imagined his laughter and a face that looked just like his Mom's. As the days wore on, the worrying turned into joy. I took my Mom, his grandmother, to see him in the NICU. She fussed with the glass incubator-thingy-majigy and basically interrogated the attending nurse about EVERYTHING. It was pretty funny actually. My Mom is not someone anyone should ever mess with. I think the nurse sighed with relief when we left. On Saturday, Nov. 7, I went by myself to visit him again. I just had a blast performing a couple of songs on the radio a few blocks away, and I went straight to the NICU with my happy little self. Up to that point, I still hadn't visited the little glass gift shop in the lobby, and in my rush to see him, I forgot to go there again. I did my 3-minute scrub, and then hovered over him yet again. He was laying on his side. For several moments, he opened his eyes and stared right at me. He gave me this glaring look that said "Why you all up in my grill!!". I gave him back a stare that said "That's right!! I'ma be all up in your grill!!! Better get used to it!". Yeah, this went on for awhile. For a small second, I reached in and touched his hand. It was the softest skin I had ever felt. Looking back, I wish I had stayed a little longer. I didn't know then that he would pass away two days later. On the day he died, I responded to a text from my older sister Leth that said "Call Me 911". I called her right back. All she had to say was "He's gone.", and I knew. I heard the sound of my sister Lloyda weeping uncontrollably through the phone, and I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. At that point, I had dissolved into a blithering mess. I went straight to the hospital. I passed by that little glass gift shop and resisted every tearful urge to walk in. We spent that whole afternoon holding his little body and trying to say goodbye . . . A few days later, there were a couple of items that needed to be picked up from the NICU--a disc full of halloween photos of the baby that the nurses took, his little ankle band, and the stat sheet that identified him on the glass incubator-thingy-majigy. I went to get all of this stuff, but on my way out, I decided to make one more stop. The gift shop in the hospital lobby was a small room with walls of glass. Inside, it held a whole universe of little gifts and possibilities. I walked in to behold all of these treasures. I scoured the walls to finally find my nephew the perfect gift--a little bear he could have with him in his resting place. (Because really, every kid should have a little bear or stuffed animal of some sort. I was determined to give him one.) Luckily I found one hanging on a display. It was fluffy and white, and it had a blue sweater on that said "Baby Boy". I bought one for Baby Kit and one for my sister Lloyda. I held these bears in my hand, along with every hope, every dream, and every possibillity that I had for my nephew. I stepped out of the glass and out into the world. I felt like I was holding him and his spirit and letting him go out into a place where nothing would confine him anymore. Somewhere wide, open, and carefee. As it turned out on the day of the funeral, the casket came with a little bear of its own. It was sitting with Baby Kit when I got there. When I saw this, I said to myself, "Aww, helll NO!!!!". I promptly removed this evil bear and replaced it with the one I got him. My sister gave him a light-blue-colored baby blanket that she knitted. My mom gave him a rosary that she got from her Mom. We all gave him kisses goodbye before the memorial service began. The memorial service and funeral went very smoothly. My sister Lloyda proudly spoke about her son. My nephew Tyler read a poem and my other nephew Bubba read a bible verse. My brother-in-law Danny gave the eulogy. My sister Leth made this amazing slide show for the service, and several family members and friends shared this day with us. I sang a song and played my keyboard. It was a lullaby called "While You Sleep" that I wrote years ago. I was so proud to sing for him that day. The kind folks at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home were just so amazing with us. I am grateful to their entire staff for making this whole experpience more bearable, and even quite special actually. I am also thankful to all of the folks who were able to donate towards paying for the funeral. The day of my nephew's burial was beautiful--a fresh fall November day. I could have taken off my coat and still felt nice and cool. The sky was a clear, dark blue, and the sun was shining bright. A whole family gathered around one sweet and precious gift that day. He was the best gift our family ever could have gotten. My family and I stand by my sister Lloyda now as we try to move on. I''ll stand by my nephew always. Cheering him on, just outside the glass, but now in a wide, open, carefree place . . . With Love, Uncle.
Sometimes, I allow myself to think back on my life, on the people I've met, the places I've been. It's been a very steep, and at times arduous, incline. I'm surprised that I am remarkably well-preserved, in spite of it all. That I am still more hopeful than jaded, more sweet than bitter, more alive than complacent, more in love than in longing, more free than disenfranchised.
I have to tell myself, "You did good kid. You did good". The alternative to this would be to obsess over every loss and failure, to give greater credence to the gloom in the doom, to consume the worst of things.
The truth is I've lived this alternative when, instead of running outside to play in the sun, I turned the other way to explore darker corridors.
I've come to know a couple of things in these meanderings. First of all, and most essentially, if you stay in these darker places for long enough, things just start to suck. I could probably be more eloquent in saying that, but it's true. Darkness just begets more darkness, and before you know it, you've dug yourself into an impossibly deep, abysmal hole.
On the night of January 28, 2011, I ventured out of my home and headed towards downtown Nashville, TN. At that point, it was a fairly cool and breezy night--a far less frigid circumstance from the strangely snow-filled winter of late. I barrelled down the I-40 around 8:30 PM with the hopes of seeing some friends of mine play a show at a small club in east Nashville called the 5 Spot. Tucked neatly inside a part of town called Five Points, this club is a part of a tapestry of bars, clubs, art galleries, and restaurants frequented by many locals and scenesters alike.
As often as I've been to this area, I'd never actually been to the 5 Spot. Parking at or near the venue was a bit of a mystery to me. So, I decided to park at my usual place-- near the corner of 11th St. and Russell just about a block down from The Pied Piper Creamery and Bongo Java. I've never once failed to find parking on this street. It was a no-brainer that put me within a five minute's lazy walk towards the venue.
I managed to nab a spot just a few feet from the corner of 11th and Russell. I got out of my car and headed north. Just as I stepped onto the sidewalk, I heard a voice say something mildly distinguishable. I turned around to find two people walking towards me. One was holding something up towards me while the other stepped ahead and moved even closer. It took me a couple of seconds to register in my mind what was happening, but there it was in plain sight.
A gun was pointed right at me within five feet of where I stood. I remember feeling my own heart beat pounding through my chest. My mind was full of panic beyond belief.
So yeah. I've neglected this blog over the last week. My schedule has not permitted me to post a proper entry. Well, I just wanted to take a little time to fill you all in on what I've been up to.
Over the past ten days, I performed five times in three different states. On June 25th and 26th, I made it down to Decatur, Alabama to play music at the Persacon Anime Conference. I performed at this event last year, but this time I stepped it up a couple of notches. First off, I brought my trusty vintage Roland JD-800 synthesizer to add other sounds and textures to various songs. Secondly, I actually wore costumes this year!!!
The first costume was a Japan airlines jacket along with white bell-bottom-ish slacks.
(Photo by Allysen Quarto)
(Photo by Allysen Quarto)
Do you own an ipod, zune, or mp3 player of some sort? Do you need a way to play your music out loud instead of on your earphones? Well, here's a solution: a recycled boombox!!!!!!
Made out of used cardboard candy boxes, it is a docking station that is compatible with most portable music players. You may as well go as green as possible when you dance to your hot polka music or accordian rock.
It's also available in red:
So, I had a delayed epiphany lately. I've been thinking about the idea that we are all individually responsible for our own happiness. This is delayed because this concept came into my head a while back, and it finally filtered in to its fullest extent in the last few days. I've taken great comfort in this concept. It's given me more pep to my step. I've just been thinking . . . "I am responsible for my own happiness." What this means to me is that not only can I determine my own course, but ultimately, no one else has the power to rule over my life. No one has the right to disempower me and who I want to become. This line of thinking overules any sense of victimization, shame, and self-loathing. If you are responsible for your own happiness, then you are responsible for everything--even some of the bad things. I have to make clear that there is a distinct difference between taking responsibility and taking blame. Blame is often accusatory criticism either from someone else or directed towards oneself. Blame is actually very destructive if it is internalized because it grows into a huge glob of shame. I don't think it's an accident that these two words rhyme. They walk hand in hand. In contrast, taking responsibility means claiming ownership of something--whether it is a wrongdoing, a task, a dream, and even a sense of happiness(whatever that may be). It means that you will protect, nurture, maintain, or depending on the circumstance, undo whatever that "something" may be. In all of these cases, you are essentially taking control of the situation and not letting it either slip away or wreak its own hellish havock upon you. Taking responsibility means being proactive. There's nothing passive-aggressive about it. I don't know why, but all of this is incredibly comforting to me. Life will throw it's curveballs. There are often many disappointments and setbacks, but I am taking great pride in owning up to all these things. It means that I can also own up to all the amazing moments, accomplishments, and joys that have and will come my way. (There are just as many, if not more, of these.) So, this has all been stuck in my head. I've been thinking about it while stuck in traffic, on the treadmill at the gym, while knitting on the couch and watching tv, and while playing on my keyboard. All of this makes me smile. Hope you all have a great week. -g
A couple of days ago, Oreo and Buttercup asked if they could go out. I thought that this was a strange request since they've spent the last two weeks either bickering or giving each other the silent treatment. I tried to facilitate some kind of truce between the two of them early on, but that was disastrous. Not only did I not find out why they were at odds, but it only made things worse. I walked away from my failed peace-making attempt at an utter loss for words and with a huge glob of butter in my hair.
So, yes, a request for the BOTH of them to venture out together was just mind-boggling at this point. I granted their request as long as they finished their homework. They promised me that they had and ran off instantly.
Being the doting pianist that I am, curiousity got the best of me. I put on my chewbaka disguise costume and followed them at a reasonable distance. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but this was the scene I discovered once I finally caught up . . .