Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Clean Bill of Health

I've had this mild fever for a couple of weeks so I went to the doctor to see what's going on. It turns out it might be a viral infection but we won't know until the test results are back. In the meantime, I just need to get a lot of rest.

As I was filling out the patient forms, I realized, in truth, I'd been rather blessed with a clean bill of health. Despite minor illnesses such as an occasional cold or allergies, I don't really have any outstanding health issues. This has been my first time to the doctor's office for something specific in ages. I filled out my form, with most of the "prior/existing illness" column unchecked. Under drugs I filled in "Tylenol and Claritin." That's all I take, not even on a regular basis. I begin to wonder, is my lucky streak running out?

But my exam went very well. My lungs sounded fine. My blood pressure was 124/74. My reflexes were good. I'm at a good weight. I show no visible sign of aging. I eat well. I exercise. I sleep. A lot. And maybe that's what's been keeping me healthy all these years.

So this minor setback is rather puzzling. Not that I'm scared. I think whatever is ailing me is nothing major, and I'm already feeling better than I did three days ago, with only a few tablets of Ibuprofen at my disposal.

I do become very aware of the fact that there really is no better thing than good health. As a child of two senior citizens, I see the struggles my parents go through on a daily basis simply trying to feel good so they can go through the day. Both have diabetes and high blood pressure. They take pills like they're eating candy. Granted, at their age, they are still very active and relatively pain free. But I do realize, I have been taking my good health for granted. It's not always going to be that way. I'm not that young anymore, even though I look and feel good. The soul, mind and body work together, and it's our duty to keep all three in top shape.

I mean, the soul, the mind, and the body all need to be healthy to lead a productive life. If either one fails, the quality of life is reduced significantly. We need to nurture our souls with kindness and love and humanity and connections. We need to nurture our minds with knowledge and understanding and thoughts and ideas. And we need to nurture our bodies with nutrition, rest, exercise, and rest. Only when we're healthy from inside and out can we have the tools we need to pursue our happiness and to live life to our fullest. I know it's all trite and cliched, but I really do believe in how the mind, body and soul work together to create that balance of good health.

To me, my whole life is about balance. Good health is all about balance. Too much of a good thing is going to take something else away. I believe in moderation as well, which tie very neatly with balance. A little bit of everything makes the world such a wonderful place and life such a wonderful experience, but once we start overdoing something, from overeating to overstressing to giving in to emotions such as anger or guilt, we start to chip away something else, whether it's our cholesterol or our hearts or our mental well-being. They're all connected; the mind, body and soul are like the three legs of a table: When something is knocked out of balance, the rest has to struggle to just to keep us standing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fuck It

Yeah, I don't really care how this page is going to be archived by Google and how it's going to look in the future if I ever become a known anything. Fuck it. Lately I've been so sick of being a nice guy, always trying to be polite and considerate and trying to make the other person feel welcome, but you know what? The world if full of crappy people who really don't give a fuck what I think anyway. I've been so pissed by so many things, so many people lately that I just want to throw up my hand and say, "You know what, I don't have to be a fucking nice guy all the time. So go to hell." And 100% of the time they would have deserved that. I want to be able to say that whenever I want to without thinking, "Oh geez, that's not very nice."

Now, that's not to mean that I'm going to be rude to everyone who crosses path with me. I respect people, until they give me a reason to despise them. Most of the time, I simply don't care. So if I don't know you or if you haven't crossed me, I'm going to just keep my mouth shut and let you go on your merry way. Otherwise, don't expect me to play it nice anymore.

What's so nice about nice anyway? It's okay if that's really who you are. But I'm not nice. No, hell no. I am far from nice. My parents want me to be nice. My teachers desired me to be nice. My bosses required me to be nice. And for once in my life, I just want to say and do anything I want without worrying about if I'm being "nice."

Fuck nice, especially when you have a 101.9˚F temperature.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

iPhone

What's so cool about the new iPhone announced recently, to be available in June? Oh, sure, it's a beauty, and it's like a souped up iPod with Internet and phone and voicemail and text messaging and video playback and all that jazz. But as a smart-phone, it's really not all that impressive:

a) It has no real buttons. First impression is "Oh, that's so Star Trek, so cool!" but on second thoughts, it's not that cool. We humans need the textile feedback when we dial numbers. I've used touch screens before and it is almost impossible to type without actually looking at the screen. With a real phone, you can feel around the keys and know which keys you're pressing just by touch. There's no such feedback from a touch screen. Talk about inconvenience, especially for text-messaging. That's probably the number 1 drawback of the iPhone.

b) There's no video recording mode. Not a big deal, I think, but many smart-phones now have video recording capability, so the lack of such in a state-of-the-art iPhone seems a bit of an oversight. It does have a 2MP still camera.

c) Non-replaceable battery. What's up with that? No second battery? It might be okay for an iPod but for a phone, especially one with so many bells and whistles and graphics-intensive applications, it's most likely that battery will go fast (the running joke is that the iPhone can do this and that and this and that, and it will last 20 minutes).

d) Storage. OK, it's still very impressive for a phone, but don't call it a better iPod. A typical video iPod can hold 30 - 60GB of data. The iPhone can only hold 6 - 8GB. After all OS and all the software and email and text messages, etc. how much storage do you think is left?

Don't get me wrong, it's a very sweet piece of hardware and software. So sweet, actually, that I'm tempted to get one just for the bragging right. I am just not convinced that it's the phone that will change the world.

What really makes me take notice, though, is the technology behind it. The touch screen and the human interface. I can see so much potential. In fact, Steve Job's initial interest in the technology was to develop a better tablet PC, before he got sidetracked and went for the cell phone market (which was actually a smart move, considering billions of phones are sold each year). But I think the real beauty of this technology goes back to a tablet PC, probably something that is flat, thin, and small enough to fit inside a suit pocket. Remember the scene in The Minority Report, where Tom Cruise manipulated the screens with his hands and fingertips? That's what I'm talking about -- the future. Imagine writing with your fingers, manipulating files and folders with a sweep of your palm, or editing pictures and videos and spreadsheets with touch. I think Steve Job really was onto something, but I doubt the iPhone is it.

Weird News

Heard on the news today:

1. A large adult chimp escaped from the zoo and broke into someone's house. When the person got home, the monkey had cleaned the bathroom and was in the process of cleaning the living room. The zookeepers had no idea the monkey even knew how to clean.


2. A woman flew from London to Washington, D.C. When she went to get her cat, the carrier was damaged and the cat was gone. They just found the cat today. He has been living in the cargo hold where they store the luggage. He had lived there for days and has been to almost every country in Europe and the US. He must have been the world's most traveled cat.

Asian Peter Pan

The Pittsburgh Ballet is performing Peter Pan, and both Peter and Wendy are Asians. I think that's pretty neat casting and hope it sets a trend for unconventional casting, especially of lead roles.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A New Direction?

After posting all that news about me, I am exhausted from myself. I'm kind of tired of talking about myself. I know, it's my blog and most people talk about themselves on their blogs. I just don't feel I'm a very interesting person to keep talking about myself. As much as I like some attention (anything for publicity! LOL) I really don't feel comfortable with self-promotion. I don't know how others do it, going on TV and radio and magazines and newspapers telling people how great they are.

Perhaps it's my upbringing. I grew up learning to be humble. When I was very young, my parents would tell me I was a braggart, and I should stop. They discouraged me for bragging about myself, and they wouldn't indulge me with praises. So, I learned to feel guilty about my desire to talk about myself, to tell people what I did or how proud I was about what I did. I wanted the attention, but I also felt really bad about wanting it, and getting it. To these days, I still can't gracefully say "Thank you" when someone offers me a compliment. I feel weird if someone notices me. I remember when I used to go to the clubs, I would have very narrow vision. I didn't like to make eye contacts. And when my friends would tell me, "they so totally were checking you out," I was like "get out of here." Part of me felt good, and part of me felt very uncomfortable and didn't want to believe it was true.

My recent bout of media attention has brought back the same feelings again. On one hand I know I need to capitalize on it -- as a writer/actor/artist, I know publicity is only good for my career. The more people know about me, the more books I could sell, and the more acting jobs I could get. I know that, and I'm doing it. But at the same time, I feel extremely uncomfortable. I feel like people are laughing at me behind my back, calling me an attention whore, a braggart, a publicity hound, a Paris Hilton wannabe. The funny thing is, it has nothing to do with my parents this time. In fact, ironically, they're now probably the most enthusiastic supporters I have. They were genuinely proud of me when they showed up at my book signing in California.

Why do I still feel this way? After being in the US for so many years, haven't I learned that self-promotion is very much part of this culture, especially in the arts? Or should I take the Zen approach and adopt the "Don't ask, don't want, don't need" philosophy and just see what happens? There are times when I do struggle with these two very different approaches.

So, I am going to do an experiment. After this post, I am going to try not to talk so much about myself anymore. I am going to comment more on other people, the world around me, maybe a bit of politics, world affairs, and observation. I'm going to try to take myself out of the commentaries. Would it work? And how would it feel?

I'm ready to find out.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

WQED's OnQ Magazine

I was mentioned in their TV program the other night:

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's Here!

21 authors around the world contributed to a masterpiece entitled Crack of Death. It's now available from Lulu Press. Check out my website for more information on this novel which is so bad that it's good. All proceeds for this book go to AbsoluteWrite to support their effort to expose scammers such as PublishAmerica.

My contribution was the biltifuly written Chpater 26. Buy one now, and read it and weep.


From mastermind/author Sharon Maas:

This is the work of 21 authors, most of them AWers you know and love; it was great fun writing, reading and putting it together, and I am delighted with the result. I think you'll agree that it's the second worst book in the world, after Atlanta Nights.

Originally, Crack of Death was conceived as a sting manuscript to bring down PA's alias PublishBritannica, and originally we wanted it to be an All-British work. We had the BBC Watchdog and Trading Standards interested, and quite possibly it would have gone on TV. However, the British writers I originally recruited backed out one by one, leaving only six of us behind; and then PublishBritannica sank anyway.

That's when I turned to AW members for help. The result is a Published Book that tells the following edge-of-your-seat story:

This exciting erotic thriller fiction novel is the story of the beautiful hairdresser Nancy whose life spirals out of control when she meets the exotic Roberto. Little does Audrey know that Roberto is in fact a dangerous Colombian Mafia Drug Lord. Can she escape the clutches of Cucaracha, Espadrillo and their Boss, the wicked La Madre? From the seething underbelly of Colombian drugs to the evil web of intrigue in London, Nancy is swept up in an adventure that will change her life forever, right up to the cliffhanger ending where the kindly Scotland Yard detective Garry Lamont vies with intrepid FBI agent Duane Malaysia for her favours. But is it too late?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

What a Year That Was

2006 proved to be a very fruitful year for me both career-wise and on the personal front.

The year got off to a good start when my novel, The Pacific Between, was released unofficially in January, and officially in February. The launch hit a little snag when some bookstores refused to stock the book and hold signings because of computer glitches -- they couldn't find the book in their databases. My publisher eventually straightened everything out and I had my first signing in April.

In May, I got words that the novel had been selected as a finalist for the Independent Publishers Book Award in the Multicultural Adult Fiction category. The national award boosted the book's chances in the market (we went into second printing in August). Out on a whim, I went to Washington D.C. for the award ceremony and it was fun.

Meanwhile, my publisher went through a few changes as well. Most notably, they found a national distributor, putting the company on a different level on the playing field. Paired with a number of awards, it was an exciting year for Behler Publications as well.

In November, 17 Behler authors gathered in New York City for a publicity blitz reading from our works. It was a great experience, especially meeting and talking with fellow authors and the publisher. It strengthened my feeling that we were indeed part of a family. You never forget your first time, and I'm glad that my first time (as a novelist) involved this lovely company.

I also sold two short stories to Mundania Press and The Deepening.

On the personal front, I took some time off during the summer, trying to refocus on my work-in-progress and my family. In March, my brother finally immigrated to the U.S. The family reunion was a sweet triumph after over a decade of filling out forms, going through interviews, and much waiting. We got to spend some quality time together and I look forward to more family gatherings in the future.

Acting-wise, my agent started to call me more regularly, no doubt due to the increasing demands for Asian actors. I landed a few minor projects. I also took part in the 2006 Freedom Heroes tribute which will become part of a nationwide curriculum for K-12 students.

Then in December, I made my national advertising debut with a G.E. Aircraft Engine commercial. It will be aired nationally sometime in Spring, 2007. The commercial was very fun to film and I met a few wonderful people on the set, including the director, Rocky Morton of Max Headroom fame.

Also in December, I was selected as one of Pittsburgh's 25 Most Beautiful People, to be featured in the January 2007 issue of the Pittsburgh Magazine. As frivolous as the title is, it's still a good wonderful thing; hopefully, the title would also help my book sale.

One of the things I've learned during this year of constant promotion is that it's really difficult to self-promote and not come off as a pushy, arrogant braggart. I have been trying very hard to find the balance, focusing more on the work than on myself. Still, there were times when I let things get to my head, but subsequent events quickly brought me back down to Earth. It pays to be humble, even when I'm supposed to be talking up the storm about my work. Truth be told, it's a continuous learning experience for me; and I plan to make a career out of it.

In closing, I had a wonderful year and I hope to continue my streak and continue to learn and improve as a writer, an actor, and a human being.

Here's to a great and prosperous 2007!


Take care, my friends.