Thursday, December 30, 2010

All Look Same! All Look Same!

I used to get called 'Ken' by my coworkers at California Pizza Kitchen. Ken was the other Japanese American server at the time I worked there. I usually don't mind being mistaken for other Asian American guys, especially when they're as good-looking as Ken.

Plus, I'm used to it.

When people attempt to apologize for calling me by someone else's name I try to minimize their obvious embarrassment, because I am that Japanese, with the explanation that I am used to being called by my brothers' names (which isn't exactly true, probably because I'm the oldest).

At work, it's a compliment to be mistaken for our Assistant Director of Admissions, a handsome Filipino guy with a wholesome preppy wardrobe. Sometimes I'll even dress like him on purpose, with a button-down collar and a sweater vest. It makes a few of my coworkers nervous when I walk by their desks, as if I had caught them during a not-working-as-hard-as-they-could've-been moment.

I love being mistaken for the Director of the Computer Animation program which, unfortunately, doesn't happen very often. He is also Filipino, with well-toned biceps, and he is thinner than I am (he smokes, that cheater). His natty dress shirts, ties, and waistcoats influence my work-wear as well, as does his hair which is always freshly cut and gelled to contemporary perfection.

The biggest benefit of looking like my coworkers is that I can ignore other staff members when I feel like it. People that I see on a daily basis don't always say hi to me when I'm walking through the hallways. I think it's because they're not quite sure whether it's actually me or "the other Asian guy."

(The title of the post is stolen directly from Prince, which was his reaction to the photo above)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have Yourself a Disco Little Christmas

This past weekend I got to participate in another memorable performing experience with East West Players, "A Little Tokyo Christmas."

The show was made up of several traditional and not-so-traditional holiday numbers ("We Need a Little Christmas," "Disco Christmas" . . . "Santa Lost a Ho"), thanks to the many amazing performers who donated their talent and time.
The cast and crew of eighty Asian Americans were professional directors, actors, singers, and dancers. For some of us, it was a heartwarming homecoming of sorts, a reunion with the Family and Community that is East West Players.

And like any family holiday get-together, it was a wonderful opportunity to see how the individual families had grown. Most of the children of the performers were also on stage, singing in their own numbers and dancing in the finale with the entire cast ("I see that this show ignited that familiar gleam in their eyes - a love for performing on stage" one cast member commented).

I was happy and grateful to be dancing again, even in sweet, simple numbers. Sometimes, all I want out of life is to be one of the dapper chorus boys worshipping a single diva on stage, such as in the "Roxie Hart" number from "Chicago," or Marilyn/Madonna in "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"/the "Material Girl" video.

Saturday fulfilled that wish for me once more, as I got to be one of the chorus boys in "Santa Baby," which was sung by actress Amy Hill. Amy, who has guest starred in many sitcoms, is my hero because she played the lavender-haired babysitter in "The Cat in the Hat" film, and she is also one of the voices for the "Jackie Chan Adventures" cartoon series.

In addition to performing with old friends from years ago, I got to meet many of the newer and younger actors from EWP shows of recent years, including a cast member from Prince Gomolvilas's stage adaptation of "Mysterious Skin."

Prince had gently chided me after seeing the evening show (sold out!). "Why didn't you tell anybody?"

Ha! And I didn't find out until later that was in the audience (that devious sneak!). I didn't tell many people, mostly because I'm still trying to get past the stage of always demanding attention, which is just part of the slowing down process for this aging chorus boy.

Getting to be part of the show was wonderful, and also a little bittersweet. I am never quite ready to give up my dancin' shoes (or hang up my tutu, as one male friend had put it), so I was ecstatic to be part of three dance numbers. And yet, it was eye opening to be around younger dancers again, and it helped me to move that much closer to accepting the fact I just can't be shakin' it as intensely as I used to . . .

But hey, if Kylie Minogue can still do it in her forties, why can't I? I started shaking my groove thang at junior high school dances in the late seventies. And I'm aiming to keep shaking it - as much as I can - well into my own seventies.

The photo above is a group shot with the dancers from the disco number.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Singing, Writing, and Other Good News

This is not an actual post. This is just me checking in and giving a brief update.

I started taking a singing/performance workshop this fall, more of an audition training class at the Academy for New Musical Theatre, in North Hollywood. It's been a wonderful and safe environment for my first attempts to find more age appropriate music (and roles) to sing. We had a combination potluck and recital last month to showcase our work thus far, at the Chew'n'View Revue.

I enjoyed the first session so much that I signed up for the second ten week session where we are learning to put together our own mini cabaret act.

Both the workshop this fall and going back to voice lessons this year have been encouraging. I'm always itching to be in a show, to be performing live again. There is a third session for the workshop, in the spring, so I may wait a few months before actually auditioning and committing to rehearsals for a full musical.

And I still want to write. I still want to blog regularly, documenting the slices of life that make up the current days of my middle age, and I still want to work on completing the first rough draft of my fledgling young adult novel.

But I may have to put any performing goals and completing-first-novel goals on hold for at least a year: my job, at That Film School in Los Angeles, just announced that staff members can now become enrolled in the online degree programs - at cost! Well, we would have to cover the expense of the required laptop and software, but there will be no charge for tuition. After finally completing my Bachelor degree at age 40 a few years ago, I didn't think I would be rushing to jump right into graduate school. But I also never thought I would actually return to an undergraduate program either, so never say never.

I am mostly interested because one of the online options is a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (via our sister school on the east coast). And 'free' is the right price.

I'm going to do it, commit a year of my life to completing it. So what if I have to sacrifice exercise and even some sleep to get through the program? So what if I have to put other activities and goals - and people - on hold for a while? Indeed, in order to go back to being a student I may have to put my social life on standby for a bit, once again, and perhaps even this blog. As I had asked on facebook last week, who's ready to feel neglected?

I'll see you all online again sometime in 2012!

Just kidding. But I am serious about doing the online degree program.

And I am excited about it!

(the photo above is of me getting into character for the song 'I Am Adolpho' from the musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone")