WERK!!! Eight songs to get you pumped for business.

It’s eight o’clock in the morning and you’ve got a poop-load of work to do. You’ve poured yourself a coffee. You’ve munched on an apple to wake up. Your morning yoga is done (or not). All you need now is a jolt of energy to start your day. I’ve got just the playlist for you. Whether your slumping after lunchtime, or pushing for a deadline, these songs will jet you into HYPEr-speed.

 

1. Ten Thousand Hours by Macklemore and Ryan Lewistumblr_mclhx266vB1rtzvsso1_500

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNX-g8TMyyY

Felt like I got signed the day that I got an agent
Got an iTunes check, shit man I’m paying rent
About damn time that I got out of my basement
About damn time I got around the country and I hit these stages
I was made to slay them

 

 

2. Gonna Make My Own Money by Deap Valley11681

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWXsTaBoD7A

You say marry a rich man
Find a rich one if you can
Daddy, don’t you understand
I’m gonna make my own money
Gonna buy my own land

 

 

3. 212 by Azealia Banksazealia-banks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Jv9fNPjgk

Ayo, I heard you’re riding with the same tall, tall tale
Telling them you made some 
Saying you’re grinding but you ain’t going nowhere
Why procrastinate girl? 
You got a lot, but you just waste all yourself and
They’ll forget your name soon 
And won’t nobody be to blame but yourself, yeah

 

 

4. Don’t Upset the Rhythm by The Noisettesdontupsettherhythm300

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SFT8k5chO8

The time is right
The sun is sleeping in the sky
Free your mind
You never know what you might find
What’s your vice
You know we won’t compromise
So let me show you
Something simple beautiful

 

 

5. Work by Iggy AzaleaIggyAzaleaWork

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zR6ROjoOX0

I’ve been up all night, tryna get that rich
I’ve been work, work, work, work, working on my shit
Milked the whole game twice gotta get it how I live
I’ve been work, work, work, work, working on my shit

 

 

6. Hussel by M.I.A.mia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JamBH9uQT9s

Hussel hussel hussel
Grind grind grind
Why has everyone got hussel on their mind?

 

 

7. Tightrope by Janelle Monaedownload

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwnefUaKCbc

When you get elevated,
They love it or they hate it
You dance up on them haters
Keep getting funky on the scene
While they jumpin’ round you
They trying to take all your dreams
But you can’t allow it
‘Cause baby whether you’re high or low
Whether you’re high or low
You gotta tip on the tightrope

 

8. Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi, the Lissie Cover

spex-kid-cudi-001Lissie-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQMJCOT2wlQ

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold, hey
I’ll be fine once I get it, yeah
I’ll be good.

You’ve got your playlist, go on and conquer the world! What songs do you listen to to get excited? Share in the comments section below!

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Professor U

Self-guided-education-manifesto-imageI left college in 2011, but my education has gotten stronger than ever since then. For a while after I dropped out, I looked for other schools to enroll in, but the idea of going back to college didn’t appeal to me. Along with some personal CARAZY things that ensued at my school on a personal level, desks and papers didn’t suit me. I didn’t hold to the idea that learning was somehow something separate from doing. You had to learn how to write before you could write. Learn how to act before you could act. Besides, soon into my post-non-graduate months, I got my first taste of real travel and knew that I wanted it to be a consistent part of my life.

So, I searched for other options and figured it out. Homeschooling for Adults. Be your own professor. The Internets.

I found, first of all, an amazing resource called the library and they had all kinds of books on how to educate yourself, including one awesome one called DIY U by Anya Kamenetz. Lady’s a genius. She spells out how and why to go about making your own curriculum, along with tools and resources, so that lazy people like me don’t have to include all those links. We can just tell you to pick up her book. Along with the books on self-education, the library is likely to have a book on whatever you want to learn, be that tae-kwon-do or physics. Library is your number one resource. Besides they usually have wifi and they’re quieter than coffee shops. Libraries. Making a come back.

But, if you’re allergic to books, or you’re simply a kinetic or audio driven learner, do we have some classes for you! Best resource online, hands down, is Lynda.com. This is a paid service, but it’s worth the dough. In depth classes taught by people in the industry on almost anything you would want to learn. Lynda is, pardon my french Lyn, the shit. Lynda rules the internet learning system with grace and dignity.

Broke as fuck? Forget Lynda then. Youtube comes in a close second. If you can wade through the cat videos and major distractions, and the uneducated mumbling non-experts, you will find everything you ever need on youtube. Often when you find a good one, they’ll be a lot more interesting than the tutorials you pay for (sorry Lynda). Take for instance, I’ve been teaching myself animation. Lynda is stocked full of these videos, but they are often a bit slow paced for me. I go to Lynda for the details, but when I want to play with something quickly and I need a basis, I go to youtube.

If you’re an animator and want a few good tutorials, there are plenty, but my favorites are from Ross Plaskow. Be aware, there’s some strong ass language in his videos.

That was an aside. What I’m saying is, if you want to learn something, you can go back to school and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s benefits. You build your network, you get free supplies and resources, you get automatic mentors. But, with a little work and a lot less debt, you can find those things on your own. If you want to take a different route all you need is two things, and they’re both free. The library and the internet. Here are some tips to make the process stick.

Make a plan:

Teachers have lesson plans for a reason. It will be much easier to stick to your goal if you know a) what you want to learn and b) when you want to learn it. Set yourself some goals and stick with it.

Be Flexible:

That being said, this is your education. If you find yourself leaning more in another area, explore it. Have fun! Just keep your goals in mind.

Diversify:

Try to pull your education from different sources. Scour for websites, online workshops, in person workshops, meet-ups, friends who know what they’re doing. I learned photoshop in one day from a friend of mine who’s a photographer (Thanks Leah). The impact that it’s had on my work has been phenomenal. I’d tried for months to understand it using videos, but the concepts just didn’t click. Spread out. The world is your classroom.

Rethink It:

This path is hard work, and it is unappreciated hard work until it pays off for you. Just know that you could be paying to drink at college, or you could be working hard at home, and most people will still respect you more for the degree. It will be harder to get a normal job. A lot of jobs, even in creative industries, require you to have a degree. Think hard about your decision.

Have Fun:

If you do decide to self educate, remember that your teacher is the shit, and the workload is only what you want it to be. Welcome to Awesome University, Graduating Class of You!

The Beauty of Unknowing

AXP131222_EMBRACE_UNCERTAINTY_SHAREABLE-1I don’t know what I’m doing. There, I said it. And so has every self aware person in the history of time. One of the facts of life is that we get a limited time to figure out what it’s all about, and most of us don’t. Those that do try to pass along their information and because we’re human, we ignore what they said and do what we want anyway. Cest la vie.

So, we don’t know what we’re doing. Why then does the idea of instability and unknowing scare us so much? Check out this Forbes article on embracing uncertainty. Basically it says that fear leads to self doubt and therefore worse decisions. Meaning that constantly seeking security leads to a less secure life. I’ll put that into my own words. From viewing the lives of people a lot more put together than myself, I’ve found that there is a difference between comfortable and happy. Happiness can happen at any moment, when you’re moving, when you’re still, up or down, rich or poor. It’s a good place to be and you can control your happiness within yourself. Comfortability takes that control. To be comfortable, you rely on your environment. And worse than that, being comfortable suggests being stagnant. Standing still. Have you ever gotten into a big, comfortable leather chair, put your feet up, turned on the television and thought, “I should go for a run?”. No. You haven’t. But you’ve probably come to the end of your rope (my example is always crying on the bathroom floor) and started brainstorming your next move. Uncertainty and unknowing are freeing experiences that lead to breakthrough, creativity, and energy. So, to sum it up, never ever EVER be comfortable. Be happy, be well, be uncertain, because hey, nobody knows what they’re doing. Might as well embrace it.

Touring!

Hey Everybody,

I’m writing this post from a coffee shop outside of Sacramento. We’ve been hopping through cities, cuddled up in a truck with Eric, a printmaker/ performer I met in Estonia last year and David who owns a small press called Broken River Books. The tour is going great. We did an explosive performance last night in Davis.

Updates for my other projects:

Dante skyrocketed last month to the 7th spot monthly, 45th of all JukePop time! Two months in, I’m really proud of it. The characters and plot are taking me some interesting places, and I love watching them grow more complex.

Girl And Pipe

As for Heliophiliacs, we’re about to go into super promotion mode. I’ll be sending it out to publishers at the end of the month, so I’m stoked about it. This project has been over two years in the making, so I’m more than excited to have a final copy of it that I can hold in my hands and send out. Awesome. 

 

 

 

Hella Smart Dawg: Let’s Talk About It

“Ay yo, but for real though, what I’m saying is x da same as negative b, you know, plus or minus the square root of b squared. Subtract four ac and you done homie. That’s that quadratic shit right there”

Didn’t sound smart, did I? I didn’t think so. That’s because we have a tendency to view speech, especially vernacular or accent, as a character trait. If you hear ebonics, you think ignorance, even if it’s something as complicated as, say, the quadratic formula. In fact, while I’m writing this article, I’ll probably  have to struggle to gain your respect back after my initial slang start. Well my argument is that plenty of people who speak like this are hella smart. You just have to get past the way they say things to what they’re saying.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This goes way further than black or white. Americans have trouble with accents in general. Every accent has a personality, right? British people are smart. Russians are mean, Middle Eastern people are untrustworthy, Asians hardworking, Hispanic passionate, Southern stupid, Northern jaded, French sexy and on and on and on. In media especially, these accents are often vilified or looked on negatively. If you have an accent, you’re usually an automatic side-kick or villain. A passionate Spanish sidekick, a mean Russian villain. Like this commercial about British villains I saw recently.

Let’s take another simple example. Aladdin. In the middle of these Arabian Nights, somehow the only dude with an accent (and a terrible British one I might add) is the villain Jafar. Wait, I take that back. His evil parrot sidekick also has a pronounced character voice. Meanwhile, the street urchin Aladdin has the voice of a Midwestern schoolboy. Pure of heart, pure of voice.

Here’s my proposal. Why don’t we start viewing speech as a language instead of a character trait. Accent and vernacular are just the different parts that make up the language. When you learn, say, French for example, you learn a set of vocabulary and a way of pronunciation. So why can’t we view accent or ebonics in the same way?

“Bonjour. Je m’appelle Amber Lee”

“Yo what up. It’s ya girl Amber Lee”

The content is the same. And if we could shift our perspective from assuming that the first is a croissant eating sex kitten and the second is a gun wielding gum popping hoe, maybe we’d notice that they both said hello. Those are my thoughts on the issue. How about you? Let’s talk about it.

Fuck Color Blind Casting: Let’s Talk About It

 

 

 

 

friends1Color blind casting is one of those terms we throw around haphazardly. It seems like a beautiful and noble idea, right. “I’m not even going to pay attention to color. I’ll just cast who I cast”. Well, I call bullshit. Color blindness is unrealistic and in media, it leads to the monochrome wonderland we see today. Star Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, He’s Just Not That Into You, Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Girls, Sex in the City. Let me be clear. All of the above are shows and movies that I at the very least enjoyed and in the case of some (Buffy) am absolutely obsessed with. They have good writing, they’re strong shows, and they are not overtly racist. They’re just colorblind.

The problem is, colorblindness in casting doesn’t move us any further forward than “token casting” or “reverse casting”. Here let’s define these real quick. Token casting: That one black guy in every 90’s movie ever who was there to be a) funny and streetwise b) wise and streetwise or c) a drug lord. Also known as stereotyping. Look, for better or worse, it was a step forward. Now we need to keep stepping forward, because this shit still happens. We’re past it guys. Let it go. And reverse casting: BET movies, some (not all) Spike Lee joints, the shows Sister Sister and Smart Guy, everything, everything, EVERYTHING Tyler Perry has ever made. Understandably, monochrome casting has created an urge for black artists to create their own work. But, separate is not equal. Why the hell would you just want to create more monochrome? Let’s be smart about this people.

No blindness is not the key and neither is casting based on race. So what solution does that leave? Simple. Casting with an awareness of diversity. Create characters that could be played by any race or ethnicity (Let’s talk about Scandal people) and then make sure your cast is diverse. I mentioned Scandal, I’ll also redeem Joss Whedon (we are not worthy) by citing his later career with Firefly and Dollhouse, and shows like Misfits and Skins on BBC. There is a great benefit in showing diversity without holding up a giant sign that says “Look! These people are different”. Media should reflect reality, which in our society is diverse, but it also effects reality. Example, you show kids growing up two types of shows “white shows” and “black shows”, they think that races are inherently separate and different. Hence, oreos [I hate that term] like me are considered weirdos who are trying to be white, or worse, brilliant exceptions to our race. The truth is, black people and white people are pretty much the same. And if we show them being together, on the same intelligence level, in a companionable relationship, we could do a lot for race in this country. As content creators, we have a responsibility to portray life as it is and as it should be. Both of which at this point include ethnic diversity. This goes for all races and nationalities. Honestly, how do we have any show or movie set in New York that shows only white Americans? You can’t turn your head without seeing diversity. Step up Hollywood. We can do better.

So, I’ll close this by saying again, fuck color blind casting. Open your eyes and make a difference. Those are my thoughts on the subject. What do you think? Let’s talk about it.

Film Title: Serenity.

Brain Exploding Excitement

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN CRAZY!!!

I’ve been trying to update everyone via Facebook, but the good news is streaming too fast, so here’s my week in a link filled update of awesometasticness, followed by some links to my friends’ awesometasticness, followed by a very cute motivational cat picture.

1.The music video I modeled in for COLOR WAR was released.

I had so much fun on this shoot. The band is amazingly talented as is the Director, Julia Ngeow and the set designer, the one and only Ventiko the Photographer.

2. My new story, Tia was accepted at JukePop

SONY DSC

Part teenage coming of age, part sci-fi, all awesome. Tia’s my new story about an abused, chain-smoking teenager who is left with super-powers after a violent event. You can check out the story at JukePop. I love the cover. It’s one of my favorite photographs I’ve taken.

3. Dante scaled the ranks on JukePop

Dante

I put out a call and you guys answered! After putting up a facebook campaign for votes, Dante climbed from the #376 serial on JukePop to the #115 spot. With more than 90 votes and 17 people adding the story to their bookshelves, I’m astounded by the encouragement and support of this project. Thanks guys. If you want to check out the new chapters, you can go to JukePop or visit my JPTop30 page to see sketches and sneak peeks.

4. Published a guest post on PeriOd

Capture

Eames Armstrong is a major force in curation in Washington D.C. and a general B.A.M.F in life. She started a blog called PeriOd a while back that documents and explores the meaning of fleeting art forms, i.e. performance art, conceptual art, etc… I was completely honored to do a post about one of my favorite experiences of performing in Brussels with NonGrata. The article is short, to the point and picture heavy, just like I like them 🙂 Here’s the link; the article is called Dancing through Alternate Realities.

5. Launched a new website for writing/ illustration projects

giants

Originelle Design and Productions is the tool for my stories to come to life. Mixing my writing with a new illustration style (a blend of drawings, graphic design, photography, and collage) I’ve put up the new website with my five primary projects at the moment, all in different stages of editing, writing, and publishing. Dante and Tia, mentioned above are featured. Along with my National Novel Writing Month winner Heliophiliacs, a book of poetry written over a year on the move called Giants, and a black comedy about Witches for Hire called Hekse. Click here to check out Originelle Design and Productions.

And last, but certainly not least:

6. Performance featured in Korean Article

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Usually, I don’t get excited about press, but when we performed in Korea, there was an element of pressure to conform. Entertainment and nice gentle performances were encouraged and anything remotely political, provocative, or boundary pushing was discouraged or in more extreme cases stopped or cancelled. When we did our final performance with Non Grata, it was a protest for artistic freedom, and this article really reassured me that our point had gotten through. It’s called Non Grata: A Reminder of True Art.

So that’s been my excellent, phenomenal, brain explodingly awesome week in a nutshell. But, I’m not the only one being amazing.

My friend Lauren Fernandes launched her website this week. Masque: Makeup and Body Painting for Unique Skin. She’s awesome. Boudoir painting, zombie make-up, glamour, you name it, she does it. And she does it well. Visit her site here.

Lindsay Mound, in addition to being the lead singer in that awesome COLOR WAR video you just saw, was featured in Aritzia for her New Years TAPestry (an interactive illustrated story that you tap to read). It has great advice and amazing illustrations. Mound holding it down. Check out the article HERE or her website HERE.

And Julia Ngeow, previously mentioned director of the COLOR WAR video is moving to New York this week from as far as you can physically get from New York (Perth, Australia). She is an amazing director (I mean, check out that video. Am I right) and she’ll be looking for opportunities to film, so check out her site and her videos and hit her up.

And just to wrap it up. Go for it this week! Be awesome. Because KittyChill says “You got this bro”

ETXtX

My Trip to the Edge of the Earth (Or why leaving your comfort zone gets you where you want to be)

It had been a long day. I was on tour with Non Grata and we’d been in the van for a few days by that time. The thing about a tour is that lulls are deadly. Everyone manages to get along when everything is hectic and you’re jumping from place to place, but take couple of days of down time, and the whole family’s at each other’s throats. This was one of those days.

We were going to the edge of the world. Or so they call it. The northernmost place in Eurasia at the edge of the Arctic Sea. We’d had good weather all the way North, bringing the sun with us wherever we went, but our luck changed when we got there. Bickering all the way, we finally arrived as far North as you could physically go. IT WAS FREEZING! I climbed down the rocks, wanting to have a moment to myself. The stones were huge. I didn’t have on the right shoes for climbing (or for walking, they were completely falling apart), but I wanted to touch the water. After a shaky trek down, I reached the freezing water and dipped my hand in. It may have been the temperature that sent a rush through my body, but I suddenly felt alive with the fact that I had come to the edge of the earth. I kissed the water with the tips of my fingers. The feeling was completely overwhelming.

And when we went back up to take photos, the elements let loose. Storm, cold rain. All of our bickering ended and in the face of this ridiculously uncomfortable situation (most of us didn’t have the right clothes for an Arctic storm) we started laughing and teasing each other. We were having fun!

I say all this to say, when you’re bored, life sucks. Every small thing becomes a big deal. You’re tense and grumpy and stuck. But when you step out of your comfort zone and do something great, the biggest storm becomes a joke and you can laugh in the face of your problems. It’s a new year guys. DO SOMETHING. Anything you do, any change you make, will teach you more than standing still ever could.

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I’ve Got Seoul!

unnamed (2)

Hey Friends,

This year has been another whirlwind! In honor of the New Year, I’ll be doing a series of posts about my biggest adventures of the year, starting with my latest journey to South Korea. Here goes!

I arrived in the airport in Seoul like I usually arrive to another country. A little broke, a little confused, and more than a little excited. I was supposed to meet a friend in the airport, but we missed each other by a matter of minutes. After about an hour of calling attendants and being shuffled around the airport, I finally managed to contact the organizer of the festival I was attending. I didn’t have a phone, but he was on Facebook and he helped me to figure out the subway system and get on a train to the artspace. I’d had about 31 hours of travel time. Advice to travelers, if you get a cheap last minute flight watch out for layovers. I had 12 hours in San Francisco after a bus ride to NY and a six hour flight. No fun. But, I was finally in Seoul. One of the festival attendants picked me up and helped me to carry my bags. She was very sweet and understanding. And I saw Asia for the first time.

How to describe Korea. The buildings are like dollhouses. Not tall towering things, but every building has a million things inside. This building is four restaurants and an apartment space. This one has two shops and  restaurant. They’re stacked on each other like legos, lit up like Christmas lights. It’s beautiful. I was terrified when I saw people walking down the streets in gas masks, but it was just the pollution. When we got to the art space, my body was worn, but we went to a welcome dinner in the restaurant underneath our hostel. Mmmm. Korean food is AHmazing. We went into the restaurant and took off our shoes. It was one of the sit on the floor kind of spots (not everywhere is like this). We had angry chicken and pork, soups all cooked right on the table. And we drank. Korean alcohol is a little different. Here we have 6% beers, 40% liquors, 14% wines, etc. There, they have soju, makkoli, and korean wine. Soju is a 20% alcohol that for some reason gets most people twice as drunk as whiskey. They call it “Happy Water”. An apt name. It tastes like water and I have had some very good soju nights. Then there’s makkoli. A white, milky alcohol that we’ll call an acquired taste. I haven’t quite acquired it, but I can drink it now without making a face. Then there’s Korean Wine, aka hangover central. Sugary sweet and 50% alcohol. I tried it once. Not recommended. Anyway my first night I learned the words “Soju juseyo” (ok I already knew this one, but it means soju please) and kambei! which is cheers. That night I ended up sitting on the floor of our hostel with my friends (there was a table right next to us) talking about art and life. A beautiful night.

It went that way while we were in Seoul. I knew a lot of the people there already from other festivals and those I didn’t know, I got to know quickly. Eating, drinking, art, talking, laughing. We were having a great time. It wasn’t until we flew to Jeju that the excitement started though.

Jeju is a small island between Seoul and Japan. They’re known for wind, water, and women. A strong shamanistic society too. We artists thought we’d be getting a work vacation in Jeju. Our hostel was right in front of a beautiful beach, everything smooth. It turned out, though that Jeju was a bit… traditional. Our organizer wanted us to tailor our performances to make the people on the island happy. Entertain them. The problem was, he’d invited a bunch of radical, political performers. The result was a huge fight that lasted for days. Performances cut short, cancelled, arguments. To him it was a matter of making people happy, to us it was a matter of making them think. I believe there’s substance to both of these, but personally, I don’t make work to entertain. I make it because I have something to say. Beautiful art needs to be made, it’s just that I don’t make my art to be beautiful. It was all miscommunication and hurt feelings, but in the end, I felt better after making a performance that err expressed my feelings (which at the time could have been summed up in two words ‘fuck that’).

Luckily, though, we were all friends before and art arguments don’t kill friendships most times. The night after our performances, we were invited out by the market owner to dinner, his treat. EX-PEN-SIVE. It was $50 a table and we had about 6 tables. To give you a comparison, we’d been using $6 meal tickets and eating big, delicious meals all week. Mmm the food. Beef slices so thick I could barely look at them. Vegetables everywhere. Sashimi. Squid (terrible). It was amazing. Then we went out to karaoke, his treat again. We walked into our room and there were full whiskey bottles on every table and beer and food. Everyone started cheering when we walked in and we hugged everyone. If you have never done karaoke in Asia, you have never done karaoke. They take it seriously, so you don’t just talk and drink while people are singing in the back. It’s like being at a concert where everyone’s the star. You get up and dance while everyone sings, or listen if it’s not danceable. My friend and I shut the house down with Toxic by Britney Spears. I ended up on my knees rocking out, because people started climbing up on the stage and rolling around, and the wires got tangled. I have never felt like more of a rockstar.

Of course, it turns out that our patron was a Korean mob boss. Yup… So… that happened. Another of my friends had fallen in drunken love with one of the Korean girls and we were trying to get her to come with us. She wanted to, but she kept saying there would be problems. I asked my friend who spoke Korean what the problem was, and she casually told me, “oh he’s in the mob”. I grabbed my punch drunk friend and put us all into cabs. You gotta know when to end a night.

All in all though, I loved my Korea adventure. The culture was different and difficult, but with friends and people you love, you can appreciate the beauty of the city. Stay tuned, next time I’ll tell about adventure in Europe 🙂