Month: October 2015

Marty McFly: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

Marty McFly: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

Today is October 21, 2015, the day in the film Back To The Future: Part II where Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to the future… well to the present which will turn into the past after today… It’s all very confusing if you think about it. Anyways this blog post is actually a training exercise to see why I do what it is that I do, such as dress up as Marty McFly (If you look at the image I posted you can see what I mean, and if you, the reader, is curious as to what I’m doing in that photo, I’m trying to flex the wheel fast enough so it can light up).

As mention before, today was the day the hero of the film, Marty, arrives into our present which is his future to set everything right and as a way to respect the passage of time of when the film was first release to now, (which is 26 years) I had to dress up. However, as I continued to explore my mind as to why I would ever decide to dress up as him, I started to realize that his experiences mirror mine own.

So when we first met Marty McFly, he’s just a student trying to follow his musical career dreams but he has self doubts about his future like any sane person would. I’m a student that is trying to follow his art career dreams with plenty of self doubt. But as I further analyze my character idolization I soon realize that both of us have mentors that taught us a valuable lesson with a single sentence that we often recite when we face adversity. Doc Brown taught Marty,”If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”. My professor taught me that “if you commit to an idea, you should commit to it fully”. Ever since she told me that statement, every time I do an art project her voice instantly plays in my head and I start to give it my all. Next, we both have to look into our past families’ lives for inspiration to solve the problems in the present to change our future into something we want. But lastly and most importantly, Marty and I are stylish cats so it only make sense that Marty is my one of my favorite heroes even if he’s a fictional character.

The “Rocks” In Our Lives

The “Rocks” In Our Lives

In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space”, this past, past week, I delved into the work of Bailey Francis who created a truly meaningful show with rocks, branches, and wood based on her experiences when she was vacationing at her grandparents’ home. Although the experiences she had based the show upon was less than a joyful one.

I first met Bailey in Blacksmithing class, she had a hat equipped on her head and wore a “G4” shirt so I knew she was my kind of people (for those of you that don’t know what G4 is, it was a channel on basic cable that was all about technology and gaming. One of my favorite channel until they went under). Also, she was a new face in the metal scene and I was sure that she belonged to a different department/program. So I did what I do best, I got information. I found out she was part of a rare breed at our school that belonged to the elusive Wood BFA program (I didn’t know that the Wood program at our school only had like one BFA during the time I met Bailey, I thought each program had at least five BFA but hot damn I was wrong). Shortly thereafter we got to talking and became good friends because again she was my kind of people, geeky in nature, knowledgeable, and friendly.

And so the story goes like this, when this semester began and as I started this blog, it came to my notification that Bailey would have a gallery show on campus so I jumped the gun the week before she would have it and asked for an interview. She gladly said yes to my request. So fast-forward to the week of the show, I was completely clueless to what she would do for it. Knowing Bailey, it would be something functional, simple, and conceptual but not too artsy-fartsy where I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at. Let’s just say I was partially right with my assumption on the show. For first time visitors that walked into the Merlino Gallery, they were greeted with the doors swung wide open, nothing would be hidden and Bailey welcomed them as they enter. There were rows of tables that she had made from Douglas Fir Pine, the cheapo wood that you can buy any day of the week from Home Depot (there is a story to why this type of wood was used). Upon these tables and under them are compositions of rock, bits of trees and branches that she had arranged all around the gallery. The show’s rock/wood composition actually kept changing right up until opening day because as Bailey stated, when she thinks about a project’s concept too much she would get caught in a loop of self-questioning and constant change until she realized that all she needed to do was get her hands on the material because once she did it would be “nuts” (in a good way). However, before I delve deeper into this show, there was a problem that kept arising with some of the visitors. They simply did not read the artist’s statement which in turn led to no deeper impact of realization, ultimately missing the ah-ha moment of the whole show. Look at the blog’s image and then give the artist’s statement a read (it’s conveniently placed below for your viewing pleasure).

The show Returning to Nature is a tribute to Walt Schirmer – Pa – my grandfather. Growing up, I was incredibly close to him and loved spending time with him in his workshop tinkering away and finding out how things worked. On June 12, 2015, he was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a cancer that spreads rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks. I began collecting rocks and wood from his driveway, a coping mechanism that allowed me to free my thoughts and to take my minds off things, if only for a little while. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him before he was gone and those are the moments I’ll cherish forever. Pa passed away July 27, 2015 quietly in his sleep. With his last act on Earth, my grandfather was still able to teach me that in order to truly experience life, you must experience death.

Returning to Nature represents the life cycle of the Earth in various stages. Everything from plants and animals to rocks go through a constant cycle of change and destruction and rebirth. Although virtually impossible to detect, rocks are constantly changing; due to the driving forces of the rock cycle, plate tectonics and the water cycle, rocks do not remain in equilibrium and are forced to change as they encounter new environments. A rock may break down and dissolve when exposed to the atmosphere or melt as it is subducted under the continent. Wood as a living form grows, dies, and decays but creates a new ecology for other living organism such as lichen and the termites that currently reside within the tables. The cycle has continued for billions of years and will continue long after we too are gone.”

It changes the whole show doesn’t it? Also, remember the type of wood that was used to make the tables, Douglas Fir Pine, Bailey used to go to Home Depot with Pa when she was a kid and he would pick up that very kind of wood to do home projects. (Fun fact, in the show Bailey has favorite rocks that she displayed and those were her favorite because those rocks helped her take her mind off of the situation the most)

I’ll be honest with you, the reader, that when I first entered the show that it held me in an emotional muddle. We have all lost someone dear to us (a lot of the visitors spoke to Bailey on her lost and their own, which was a powerful thing to witness), and when I spoke to her about the subject, she spoke about how unreal it is. Near the end of finishing up the setup for the entire show, it don on her that when the show had reached the end of the week that Pa was finally gone because the show was going to be over. After hearing her feelings, I wanted to help her feel better and I have a way for you, the reader, to help too (more on that later). It’s this theory I have, so if you’ll entertain me and hear me out, the theory goes like this. People don’t truly part from us in this world because sometimes we only look at the physical measurements of what makes a person live, such as the time on this earth, our health, our appearances, etc. but this make us forget about the emotional magnitude that carries on with person that we love so much and this is what allows them to continue to live on beside us. The stories we shared with them, our laughter that followed their joke and vice versa, the smiles we participated in with each other. We tend to always remember what the measureable things about someone were, but we should remember what we couldn’t measure such as the love, respect, and memories we experienced with that person.

So this is where you, the reader, come in by kicking down the door and screaming “How can I help?”.  See, I don’t believe people completely die as long as we know about their existence and what they chose to do with it. So here is the solution to my theory, the more of us that know something about the life of Pa, Walt Schirmer, the more he lives on. Naturally through natural conversation mind you, Bailey told me a story or two about Pa. Walt and his wife, Marg lived in Northern California, in a home that wasn’t close to other homes(the kind of homes that people get to have privacy and get closer to nature, you know big yards with the driveway that could park, oh let’s say, about 20 cars) and had a road with a sign named “Walt and Marg Pl.”(how badass is that? I strive to have my name on a street sign in my future now) that led up to their home. One day, Bailey took longer than her usual 30 minutes of collecting rocks and wood to get her mind off of the situation. The next time she went out on her collecting escapade, Pa told her that she should be careful since it was unsafe due it being snake season. Pa in his own badass way told Bailey to take his pistol on her walk, (this man is dope because think about it, he probably had to shoot a skinny slithery snake before on a walk and that takes some skills since your target is a skinny slithery snake) of course she laugh and told him that it wasn’t necessary but he insisted that she have some sort of protection so he offered her the next best thing, a machete (she took the machete on the walk by the way, it actually helped on her scavenge since she could poke and prod at stuff).

There you have it reader, you have helped Bailey (thank you for helping me as well in trying to cheer her up) by knowing a little bit about her Pa because at the end of the day we all have those people in our lives that are our rocks, part of our foundation that we were built upon and like rocks, when that person is gone they leave us feeling shaky and uncertain but just like rocks they leave an imprint with us that others also get to witness.

(Thank you Bailey for sharing a phenomenal person with us, and for you Mr. Walten Schirmer, take it easy, you deserve it.)

An Affair With Another Major: Journalism

An Affair With Another Major: Journalism

In an ongoing series, where I explore other academic majors that peaked my interest at one point or another in my life, this blog post will cover the major called journalism. This blog post was made possible with the help of Jamie Perez and contributions from readers like you, thank you. (Can you imagine in an alternate dimension where like Earth-310 version of Tony Nguyen was actually a journalist instead of this Earth’s Tony pretending to be a journalist? Mind. Blown.)

I barely met Jamie this semester in “Contemporary Leisure Study”, which is just some fancy-swami word for a class based on how our individual selves and we as a society use free time but I digress. When we first had class, our teacher asked us about our majors and Jamie said journalism to then my immediate response was “Hot diggity damn, I need to talk to this chick to see what that major is all about.” This was because I’ve always found journalism mesmerizing and powerful. Journalists have so much influence on this world with the information they give to the people, whether they’re truthful or not (I would like to take this moment and give a disrespectful shout out to all those journalists out there knowingly giving skewed, incomplete, or otherwise completely false information to the public, especially you FOX news, y’all some perplexed, dirty, snakey, self–indulgent douchebag assholes still struggling to completely understand the basic concept of honest journalism. Don’t pardon my French on this one for I knew what I was saying) and in a perfect world we would only have the most responsible and honest journalists but we don’t. They’re kind of like the superheroes and supervillains of this world (not very cool heroes or villains when you think of them in the traditional sense but!… eh, never mind, I got nothing) and I always wanted to be a hero so I had to ask Jamie what it takes to become one.

Just kidding, I didn’t ask her how to be a hero (I’m a anti-hero after all).

So the story goes like this, when I first spoke to Jamie it was due in part to our mutual friend, Darren. I could tell she was an easygoing, mellow, and a confident person from the way she spoke to the fact that she drove Darren home after the first day of class even though at that point in time she barely knew him. So I jumped the gun and asked her for a interview about her major which resulted in a yes. However, I had to wait two weeks before I had the chance to sit down with her since our professor had cancelled classes for two weeks meaning our schedules wouldn’t line up with each other until then. Fast forward two weeks, boom, bang, zing, and our class had ended for the day and we (including Darren) walked over to the pool hall on campus to meet up with some of her friends. Friendly introductions to strangers over, I started the interview.

The conversation went easy enough, I told her about the rules on how I conducted my interviews, “No boring questions like “what inspired you”, “what color do you”, “if you could be a dog or a cat…” you catch my drift, I’ll try to keep the interview cool, casual and not forced upon” and thanks to the interviewee it went exactly as so. First we spoke about our current states of life, how it was going between us two, why I started the blog, how was her weekend, again cool and casual. I found out that she was of a French, Native, Mexican, and Spanish descent. Next, I delved into her major only to realize that I knew little to nothing about the journalism degree offered here at CSULB. CSULB wasn’t just teaching students the fundamentals of hardcore-in-your-face investigative techniques (if at all) or how to write an informative article but it also taught journalism media (not in a complete kind of way, where the student didn’t get to learn all about media). Jamie loved the sub-focus of journalism media where she could be artistic and use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator to help make news more visually exciting and relatable to the viewer. It’s a much needed talent especially since this generation and no doubt the next generation will be very tech dependent, too easily bored to look at boring layouts, and not to mention moving from day to day without a second thought of what happened yesterday, so the journalism game must keep up with the times (I much prefer my news simple, coming from someone wearing a fedora with a piece of paper reading PRESS stuck in it’s brim, jotting the news on a notepad with a pen but what can you do?). Jamie then told me an insider secret (well, not really a secret I guess if they’re teaching people about it), which is called the inverted pyramid. The Inverted pyramid has tiers of how important and how much information should be at the top of your article and as it decreases to the end with the more fluffier news to fill space. According to Jamie the first two to three paragraphs is all you really need to read if you wanted to get the main news in that specific article, the rest is important, yes, but only necessary as detail and information to further accentuate the news at hand. I decided to test it out, you, the reader, should too. It’s quite extraordinary to just read the first couple of sentences and know the news but is it really knowing the news? Maybe this is why the inverted pyramid isn’t taught to the public, so they would actually read the entire article. As Jamie so neatly said, “modern journalism is a two way street” in which the journalist job is to get you the truth and the facts but it’s up to the public to have the curiosity to read and make sure they’re fully informed. Or the worst will happen and we’ll end up getting articles that are three sentences long like this,  “Apple Inc. is taking people’s souls. Apple Inc. announced they do not care about public backlash. To avoid this from happening, do not sign Apple Inc. contracts.”  See, you get all the news but you don’t get the “why” and the “how” of the news.

As we continued to speak, I disclose to her that in a way, she and a pen pal of mine (also a journalism major) influenced me to start this blog because journalism was always an interest of mine but it one of those things that gets pushed all the way to the back, right into the corner nook of my brain that until when someone reminds me of it, it likes to just nags at me until I do something about it (it’s exactly like that one time when I was watching a commercial about Toaster Strudels, you know that commercial that says Warm…Flaky…Gooey…Toaster Strudel, now with more icing, because damn right we need more icing. Anyways, yeah, I totally ate Toaster Strudels that same day because of that commercial). Jamie said that it was amazing that I said she was an inspiration, and she was being very humble (no sarcasm) when she told me she had had others tell her the same thing. So the topic then turns to inspiration and how we as people inspires others. It’s an amazing effect that we have on each other, to inspire the people around us to do great things without knowing it and at the same time it can produce awful, awful results. But of course, I would be the one to bring up that point during our conversation, the sometimes awfulness of us human beings just like how when the news lies about the weather for the next day and I can’t trust any of my local meteorologist anymore. Just then, Jamie proposed an idea, that everyone should be a journalist, not in the traditional sense (fedora and all) but to be a journalist that collects news, watches out for their community, and to be a positive but most importantly an active voice in their own society which might just influence our society. To that I say, what an idea, what a wonderful idea.