Monday, July 28, 2014

Model Spotlight: NAZNEEN CONTRACTOR



Up until now, the Model Spotlight series has featured beautiful women who were known in the glamour/fashion industry first, and only in the entertainment biz second. This trend changes with today's entry, a woman who has definitely graced a few photo ops and magazine covers in her time, but who's primarily known for her strong background in theater, television, and movies. Of course, like the previous entries in this series, she would invariably have to be of either Persian or Indian descent to garner my attention. And in this case, surprisingly, the subject of today's profile is a little of both! Ah, the best of all possibilities.


Name:  Nazneen Contractor
Age:  31
Profession:  Actress
Hometown:  Toronto, Canada
Accolades:  2008 Golden Nymph Award, Montecarlo Television Festival; 2012 Best Supporting Actress, WorldFest Houston; 2014 Actor of the Year, ANOKHI Magazine.
Best Known:  As Kayla Hassan on FOX's 24.
Current:  Can be seen starring in the 5th season of the USA Network series, Covert Affairs.



Born in Mumbai, India in 1982 to parents of Gujarati-Parsi heritage, Nazneen has lived, among other places, in Nigeria, London, Toronto, and L.A., where she currently resides. At age 9 when her parents settled down in Toronto for good, she took an interest in both drama and dance, going so far as to train in classical ballet for almost a decade. But it was while majoring in both psychology and sociology at the University of Toronto that Nazneen turned her attention toward theater, and the acting bug bit her hard!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Because I'm Happppppppy!!!


*Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof*

I'm overcome with a sudden feeling of, oh, I don't know what it is: happiness, euphoria, optimism ... zest for life? Whatever you want to call it, I have it. And the weird thing is, there's no specific reason for it. In fact, I've had a pretty shitty last couple of days where one bad thing after another keeps happening to me. Small things, to be sure, but small things add up to one big, steaming pile of shit-for-feelings if you're not careful. And I'm almost at my threshold!

And yet ...

And yet, I don't know why exactly, but I'm just so happy. If I could sum it up, I seem to be overjoyed just to simply be alive. That no matter what else is happening, I am alive. And being alive is GREAT! This got me to stop and think: why am I generally so optimistic? It's a mystery to me. While others have had far shittier lives than I, and continue to have them, I've had my fair share of hard knocks throughout. Some pretty horrific ones, actually. And yet I can honestly say I've never suffered from depression. Real depression, I mean. As in clinical. No, that's just not me.

But why not? I have actual real world friends and family whom I know for a fact suffer from clinical depression. And, yes, they've had shitty lives (for the most part) to perhaps justify such depression. Although, to be honest, real depression is not caused by the simple fact of bad things happening to someone, but with that someone not having the tools to cope with those shitty happenings. And by all accounts, I suppose I *should* be in that boat. And yet, I am not.




But, again, why not? Why do I love life so much? Why, despite being knocked down so often, do I pick myself up, dust off the dirt, and keep on keeping on? I think it comes from the fact that I believe in good things around the corner. That I have ... optimism that things will always be better. It's something I strive for, and I think so long as you have that drive -- that push to reach for something bright and good, whatever it may be -- despite any and all things bad happening to you at any given moment, that this is what makes for happiness. A satisfaction with oneself that things will be all right. That's called harmony, or being at peace with oneself. If one is at peace, despite being surrounded by negative forces, then one can truly be in balance with existence.

Or am I full of it?

Who knows! In the meantime, I will do as the song below says and clap along. Because I *do* feel like happiness is the truth!


 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Online Dating: Oh, The Horrors I've Seen!



Okay, yes. Confession: I've dipped my toes into the dreaded online dating pool. Well, dreaded for me at least considering that, aside from my wife (oops, I keep forgetting to prefix that with "ex-"), I've never actually dated anyone else. So the prospect of getting into that whole scene at the ripe "old" age of 37--and after roughly two decades of never having to concern myself with such--the prospect of learning how to get out there and mingle was not very appealing to me. Add to that this newfangled online component all the kids are raving about these days, and it's a wonder I didn't suffer a panic attack or something.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dear Dad (A Letter To My Father)

Dear Dad,

I know you speak very little English, and can perhaps barely read it. I wouldn't normally knock someone for that, but let's be honest: you've been in this country for over 38 years -- the fact that you cannot communicate with your sons is your fault, not ours. Perhaps someone will translate this letter for you someday.

I'm writing to let you know where you went wrong. Apparently it might be some mystery to you, and perhaps you have some misconceptions surrounding the current state of our relationship. Or rather, the lack thereof. So let me set some things straight. If it's okay with you, I'll like to start from the beginning.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting!



So, I basically have 3 television shows that have completely and utterly shaped who I am as a man today. I alluded to this fact once in a poignant post I wrote in 2008 early on in this blog's existence called: "My Three Dads." I reposted it 2 years ago on Father's Day here. Perhaps some of you might recall that.

As that article pointed out, my three all-time favorite tv shows from childhood are, in no particular order: Star Trek: The Next Generation; Kung Fu: The Legend Continues; and Highlander: The Series. With the latter receiving top billing in both my estimation and impact on who I am as both an adult and as a writer.

However, while two of these shows have been readily available on DVD and Blu-ray formats for some time, for years now I have been maligning the fact that the remaining series has never seen the light of day in North American home video release -- not even VHS tapes! I mean, ever since I first got a DVD player in 1998 I've been scouring the 'net and retail stores alike for this series to release, and to no avail. Back in 2001 I even joined online petitions and Amazon's own mail notification service in the hopes of having my dream fulfilled, and still -- bupkis!

That is, until now:




Behold, the day has finally come. The day that my beloved television show, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues has at last arrived in a professional, officially sanctioned video release. Sure, it's only a DVD release in an age where everything is inevitably switching over to the Higher Definition format afforded by Blu-ray disc, but it's better than nothing. And since HD tvs were not in existence when this show first aired way back in 1993, I can't say that I mind too much watching these episodes in Standard Definition. That's the only format I've ever seen them in!

Kung Fu: The Legend Continues was one of the flagship shows to air on the new and untested independent station, The Prime Time Entertainment Network in early 1993. It told the tale of one Kwai Chang Caine, an elderly Shaolin Buddhist monk and gong-fu master who, after 15 years of wondering the world, is reunited with his Westernized son-turned-police detective, Peter. The show was a spinoff of the original Kung Fu, which aired from 1972-75, and whose's protagonist was also named Kwai Chang Caine. Since that show took place in the American Wild West of the late 19th century, it was explained early on in the new show that this other Kwai Chang Caine was in fact the grandson of that now legendary figure. Both characters were portrayed by the late, great David Carradine.





Press play up there to watch the show's very memorable opening sequence.

The series was a wonderful attempt to blend your typical cop procedural with martial arts know-how and even some tinges of Eastern philosophy here and there, albeit sometimes in a heavy-handed, kitschy sort of way. Okay, not sometimes. Try ALL of the time! I was 16 at the time this show aired, though, and too young to know any better. But the young, unsophisticated teenage me ATE IT ALL UP! I loved it so much. For me, although it looks quite dated now, nothing like this had ever been done on television before. The themes were very adult back then, and the father-son dynamic at work really spoke to me, a kid from the Bronx who never had a father figure to look up to, let alone bond with.




In just a few short episodes, I was hooked and a die-hard fanatic of this series. It not only sparked my interest in learning gong-fu as not just a martial art, but a way of life -- it also put me firmly on the path of my lifelong love affair with all things Chinese. This interest in that far East culture always existed within me, to be sure; but Kung Fu fanned the flames into a full-blown passion! And Kwai Chang Caine was my role model.

For years the parent company which owned the rights to this show, Warner Brothers, sat on it and would not budge. No matter how many fans clamored for some sort of home video release, we were never appeased. Not even a hint that we might someday get what we wanted. Until suddenly, just a little under a month ago, word came out that the company would be releasing the entire 1st season on DVD via their manufactured on demand (MOD) endeavor exclusively from their online site. I found out about it just a few days after the series became available on the Warner Archive Collection website for just under $50. I received the set in the mail earlier this week, and I swear tears of joy nearly streamed down my face as I began watching the 90-minute pilot episode again after more than 2 decades. All the memories were back in a flash!




What a way to start off the month of June! I know it's silly, but despite my cynicism over nostalgic home video releases, I actually find myself these days with a spring in my step, humming the opening theme, and waiting to get home so that I can sit down to dinner and watch another episode of this classic action show from my youth.

That's the magic of television, folks. That right there! And if you would like to own your own copy of the show, click on that link just above. I believe this was a first-run service straight from Warner's website, with plans to allow Amazon and other online retailers a chance to sell their own stock sometime later in the month. This particular fanatic just HAD to get his hands on it as early as possible, though, so . . . NYAH!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Well, Glad That's Over With

I'm so happy May has come and gone! Or, more specifically, that June is here.

I don't quite know why, but for some reason this year I was highly annoyed at the month of May. I have no specific reason to be. Aside from barely blogging, I had a pretty decent 31 days of it. Work was okay. Personal life was okay. Even got to go to the movies once or twice, a rare return to form from back in the day when I used to go every weekend. No, all things considered, my life has been quite normal this past month.

So what gives?

I still can't figure it out. The only thing that might be the culprit as I see it, is that May 15th marked the anniversary of when I officially moved into my current apartment. Therefore, it marks the beginning of a new and (sometimes) scary chapter in my life. I remember back then wishing that I would make it to the 1-year mark and be able to look back and be proud of all I've done in that time. Mainly, to stay happy and not fall into despair. And lo and behold, I accomplished all that -- and more! I had a very good year, and am way healthier, mentally and emotionally, than I was back in May 2013.

So, then, why should I be annoyed with the month? I guess because I hate milestones, and just couldn't wait to get this particular one out of the way so that I can continue to live my life. Done. May is over and June is here to stay. For now.

But yeah, May outstayed its welcome for me. June is no peach, either, because as most of you know I hate the warmer months and, as the anti-Ned Stark would probably say: "Summer Is Coming." But as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I'm actually looking forward to the warmer weather this time around. Winter was exceptionally brutal here in the Northeast this year, and even I have to admit the changeover from that is feeling quite good. By the gods, I almost feel like wearing SHORTS!!!

You know I've gone off the deep end if I'm advocating wearing shorts now. Will the real David Batista please stand up?

As for other things going on in my neck of the woods . . .

I know I've been lax updating this here blog. I never seem to have the time anymore. That sucks. Or maybe I just need a new computer. Aside from writing my short stories--for which it serves just fine--using an 11-inch Dell netbook for anything else is seriously demoralizing. I come home after work and simply have no desire at all to hop on that tiny machine for anything fun anymore. Considering, too, that my iPad can pretty much cover any and all of my recreational computing just dandy (except for blogging, which is too cumbersome on it) and at a much faster pace, and it's no wonder I never even think to blog anymore.

I want to change that.

In addition to writing more regular content here on The Bimillennial Man, I'm toying with the idea of starting a series of fictional entries of the SF'nal nature on these pages as well. I don't want to go into details, but it would be an ongoing prose project written in a sort of epistle or journal format detailing the observations of a certain ... something ... on the daily lives and tribulations of humans on this planet.

Could be fun. I have to think some more on whether I have the time and energy to pull this off, though. Keep an eye on this space to see if I do!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We're Here Again?

Happy May Day, everyone!

It's been a very cold spring here in the NYC area. Which, of course, I just love! I'm so sick of the trend that's been going on here as of late, which is winter, then spring for one month, followed by summer for the next five! This year, I think spring won't really get started until mid-May, and by then we will probably be only 4 weeks away from the brunt of intense summer. Yeah, yeah ... people are saying that all signs point to a rather mild summer, but I'm not fooled. I know better. It's in my bones!

Anyway, as to the title of this post: May is the month I moved out of my old life and apartment, and into a new one (on both accounts). Has it been a year already? Weird how insanely quick time flies, isn't it? But life moves on, and I'm feeling fairly good about things.

So, that short story I completed recently has garnered some positive early reactions. For the most part people seem to like it a lot. I've received in-depth feedback from two readers already, and their notes are very helpful and thought-provoking. I will be trying to implement some (if not most) of their suggestions over the weekend. Then I'll give the draft another once-over and final polishing. After which, I'll leave it alone and go back to an earlier story to make some tweaks and finalize as well. At some point before the month is over I should be ready to send both stories out to different markets. This will be the first time I've had more than one submission out in about 3 years. Wow, has it been that long?

I'm glad to see that there is a noticeable improvement in my writing. The stories I write might not be everyone's cup of tea, and my plotting still needs a lot of practice, but in little steps I can see the mechanics of my writing getting much better. There are people out there whom seem to believe that all the famous writers you hear about somehow got that way out of the blue. Ha, what a laugh!  I wish the average person knew just how long it takes--how many years of practicing the craft over and over and over it requires, and how many hundreds of rejections you receive during that time--to get to that point where your stuff starts to shine and really click with readers. That smooth, almost breezy prose all the best writers are known for? They had to spend sometimes decades perfecting! And that's fine for me. I've always known the rigors involved. But it's funny when non-writers try to tell me what I should be doing, or how I should be much better than I am by now.

Fuck off, you. Try it yourself first before you complain about how I'm not as good as Stephen King or J. K. Rowling yet. It takes time. And who said I wanted to be like them, anyway?

But, yeah, this is the state of my writerly pursuits right now. After a long hiatus, I'm starting to get back into the swing of things. And most importantly, it seems I haven't really lost the skills after all. I will continue to build on them, and continue to collect the rejection slips. These are the dues I will pay, and which I should pay.

In the meantime: I go on living! How 'bout you?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dream On



I was recently reunited with a favorite tv show from my past. Dream On was one of HBO's very first attempts at an original series back in 1990, created by the same duo that would later go on to bring NBC fame with the show Friends. It received its genesis when renowned director and writer, John Landis, asked Universal Studios if he could make use of the footage from all the old black & white tv shows the studio produced from the 1950s and 60s. Dream On would make clever use of clips from these shows at integral moments during a particular episode, usually to enhance or illustrate the thought processes, emotions, and internal dialogue of the show's protagonist to comedic effect. It was a remarkably successful formula.




Dream On follows the dating and often raunchy sexual exploits of Martin Tupper, a mid-30ish book editor and recently divorced father working and residing in New York City. Because this series appeared on HBO, a subscriber-based network here in the U.S. not bound by the same censorship and laws of more accessible tv, the show contained quite a decent amount of nudity, colorful language, and sexual situations. Tame by the standards of HBO and Starz shows today, no doubt, but quite ground-breaking back in 1990. I was only 13 at the time the series aired late at night, but I was at that age when sneaking into the living room while my guardian slept to watch something naughty I wasn't supposed to be seeing was quite appealing, to say the least. And it wasn't just because of the naked boobies that were on display most of the time (I was a newly minted teen male, after all), but the show was actually quite hilarious, too!

Monday, April 21, 2014

This Kid Is A'iight!

This month is just flying by, isn't it? I wrote that April Fool's Day post last thing I knew, and then I look up and it's already 3 weeks later! The hell? It's been busy, to say the least.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dream Come True -- I'm An Actor Born!!!



Well ladies and gentlemen, I can finally reveal the good news I've been sitting on for all these months. Now that Season 4 of Game of Thrones has already premiered to select audiences, I've been given the go-ahead by the producers of the show to let everyone know some exciting news regarding yours truly.

Yes, you're hearing it here first . . . I'M MAKING A GUEST APPEARANCE THIS SEASON!!!

I know, right? It's fucking unbelievable--and I've known about it for almost 7 months now. I still can't believe it's real!

It all started with a phone call back in June ...

Well, actually, an e-mail. But it was from an HBO rep wishing to float me a proposal. It seems that with all my work promoting this show and writing about it right here on The Bimillennial Man, I garnered some high placed admirers over at the Home Box Office's home, er ... offices here in New York. I was told that there would be an opportunity to fly overseas and film a brief role in the upcoming 4th season, if I was interested.

Uh, excuse me? Would I be interested???? I was already out the door with bags packed before even hitting reply on my Outlook. I kid, I kid. Actually, it took a couple of phone calls back and forth, some meetings in person, and the signing of a shit ton of legal papers and disclaimers, but I had myself a booked flight sometime in early September when all was said and done.

HOLY SHIT!!!

Yes, as you might be able to tell, I still haven't come down from this adrenaline high. How the hell does something like this even happen? But, forget about that. I'm guessing you want some details, right? Well here they are:

The part was to appear as a walk-in during the Daenerys Targaryen portion of the show. I would be playing a slave hired as an assassin to get in close to the Mother of Dragons after she's already arrived at the fabled city of Mereen. The scene called for me to dress in rags and filth, and to creep into the Khaleesi's bed chambers while she slept. Something happens, of course, but I'm not at liberty to say because, well -- spoilers!! But I'll have you know -- no, not that I got to see Emilia Clarke naked in bed or anything. There's only but so much luck a Bronx boy like me can have, after all. But I'll have you know, she is so much more gracious and beautiful in person than you could ever have known from watching the show or interviews.


I *heart* you, Mother of my
bab ... I mean, dragons!


And that's all I'll say about that. I would like to keep the door open for future work on HBO shows, after all. Haha!

But, yes, I finally get to spill the beans on what has been such a terribly difficult secret to keep all these months. Especially from my closest friends and family, whom I could not even tell or risk being sent to the dungeons under the Red Keep, or to the Wall. The only clue some of you might have had was my absence from this blog and from Facebook back in September of last year. I dropped off the face of the Internets for a while there directly after returning from my brief trip to D.C. As luck would have it, I had an even bigger trip to make across the ocean to the fair country of Croatia, where Daenerys' scenes were being shot for season 4. I spent a total of 10 days, round trip, getting flown in and prepped, spending an awesome but exhausting two days rehearsing and shooting my breakout scene, meeting some of the lovely cast and crew, doing some sightseeing, and then spiriting my way back to New York.

It was AWESOME!!! A chance of a lifetime, and a dream come true. Look for my scene to appear in Episode 5, titled "First of His Name". It will air on Sunday, May 4th.


The scene I appear in takes place shortly after
this, when Daenerys retires for the night


I think I'm officially bit by the acting bug. Oh yeah! Hollywood, watch out! There's a new Batista in town!

On a side note, I spent a lot of time in the past month appearing in secret at the various premieres and events leading up to Season 4. Especially here in NYC. I also had to come in to HBO studios in Brooklyn quite a few times for some ADR work on my lines in the scene, which is longer than just a brief second of screen time. Weird having to synch up my voice to a screen playback of myself and to say the same lines again, and in just the right inflection, as I said them 6 months back. But again, can we just say: FUN? Oh yes, that would be what I had. And tons of it!

So, there you have it. I can't believe I finally get to share this with you all. I'm giddier than a schoolgirl in a candy shop! Or something like that. Pardon my lack of wit today, I must sound like a babbling fool, I'm sure.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check the mail to see if any scripts have come in.



EDIT 4/2/2014:  Yes, as many of the more suspicious of my readers were able to point out, this is in fact an April Fool's Day post. I even left a slight clue in the second to last paragraph (hint: the curiously italicized word) to alert to this fact. The fact that some of you fell for it means that you are very good friends and only want the best for me. And I love you all for that! This one was so much fun to write, though, that now I genuinely wish it were true. I chose the subject of acting because, to be frank, I have no interest in it. So it seemed a harmless prank to play. I would have felt more like a heel if I had written about getting a novel contract or some prestigious writing-related accolade or similar news. Because, you see, that actually is a dream of mine and it would seem cruel to joke about it. I'm not saying I wouldn't kill at the chance to appear on an episode of Game of Thrones--I probably would, euphemistically speaking of course--but that the chances of that happening are so very low as to be absurd. So it felt like a good subject to base my prank around. I believe a good AFD prank should be borderline absurd with a touch of ridiculousness, edged with just a slight enough crust of verisimilitude as to make the reader scratch his or her chin and go ... hmmmm. Which I think I pulled off. So in that sense it was a success! Still, I feel bad. I'm not cut out for this pranking business.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Girls Don't Know We Know They Know



Girls like to think that guys are clueless and not tuned in to the world around them. Lots of jokes are made at the expense of my gender, some of which are based on fact. And some of which are not. For instance, boys are not the only ones who judge based on looks. Girls do it all the time! And sometimes we catch them at it, sly though you try to be.

I've been noticing this more and more while going about my daily routine around this great big city of New York. It's amazing what subtle changes in behavior, look, and attitude can have when it comes to garnishing the attention of the opposite sex. Here are just 5 of the top observations I've made now:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Living Single

This is just one of those general how-am-I-doing and current events updates rolled into one.


Love Is In The Air:

So, Valentine's Day came and went this past Friday, and the amount of F's I gave remained at an all time high of: zero. That's right, zero F's. I actually went to see the new rebooted Robocop in theaters after work. Oh, young naive me. I remember remarking to a friend earlier that day that V-Day is the perfect time to go to the movies. What with all the young couples feeling all romantic-y and googly-eyed for each other, the theater should be quite empty, right? I mean, not only is Valentine's Day when you should be out at some candle lit dinner gazing into each others' eyes, but it's a Friday to boot! I would have thought you couldn't find an empty seat at a New York City restaurant on such a night.

Bzzzz! Wrong!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4 Anticipation Begins . . . NOW!

What, you thought you'd go this long with no mention whatsoever on The Bimillennial Man of my favorite genre television show? As if!

Yes, Season 4 of Game of Thrones is almost upon us, and this past Sunday HBO finally deigned to deliver some much needed meaty goodness on what's in store for fans this year. Behold for your viewing pleasure, Ice and Fire: A Foreshadowing -- the 15-minute first look into just how dark and twisted this next season will prove to be. I'm telling you, guys, it's going to be BIG! But don't just take my word for it, whet your appetites on this well crafted preview:





Oh. Mah. Gerd! There's just so much to squee over! I will try to maintain a tight lip on any spoilers, but if anyone has questions about what you may have just watched, ask me in the comments section. I won't give anything away with my replies, but I will clear up any confusion if you have such. As for the clip itself: feel free to watch with no fear of ruining anything. It's really just quick glimpses at things to come, along with on-set commentaries from some of the cast and crew involved. Click just to see Gwendoline Christie's (the Lady Knight, Brienne) insane laughter and obvious excitement alone. She's a hoot, and seems to really be enjoying her time on the show.

Personally, I'm very happy to see the long awaited arrivals of some fan-favorite and new to the show characters. Primarily Pedro Pascal as the Red Viper, and his fierce consort Ellaria (portrayed by the always lovely Indira Varma!).




Both characters represent the first time on this show we will see anyone hailing from the oft mentioned 7th Kingdom of Westeros, Dorne, as they arrive at King's Landing for Joffrey's pending nuptials to Lady Margaery Tyrell. And ... for other, not yet disclosed, reasons.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other big Thrones-related news. Yes, the wait is finally over. Season 3 of the show will be hitting store shelves on DVD and Blu-ray early next week! That's Feb. 18th, to be precise. And for the first time ever, the home video release will include extended special features such as: a lengthy recap of the season highlighting the most important details; deleted and extended scenes; and on-set, behind the curtain-style insights into the making of the show. Material that has never been included on a Game of Thrones video release, let alone most other HBO shows. This is a big first for fans!




I will be purchasing my set on Day 1, naturally. What about you? Come on, don't try to play coy with me!

As for the upcoming season? Game of Thrones: Season 4 will premiere on Sunday, April 6th, only on HBO. Get ready!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Am I?

Yesterday over on Huffington Online's "Latino Voices" section, blogger Icess Fernandez Rojas wrote about her identity as an Afro-Latina -- feeling at times this need to justify herself depending on which group she happens to be hanging out with, be they black or Latina. As someone who is both, she felt excluded from either group depending on the situation:

"Why, in this modern age, do I have to prove myself? Why do I have to prove my Blackness or my Latina heritage while denying the other exists?"

As someone who also has a dual-heritage background, I can sympathize with her plight. My mother was white, and my father Dominican. However, unlike Ms. Rojas, I can only claim one side of the divide: my mom's side. My father was never in the picture, except for the rare holiday or out of the blue appearance by which I would infrequently see my Dominican grandmother and perhaps a handful of aunts and uncles, along with a tiny portion of assorted cousins. My skin color is fairer than most Latinos thanks to my mom, but I have my father's island features--my hair color, nose, cheekbones, mouth, and eye shape are all Latin-Caribbean!


Funny, he doesn't look ambiguous.


It's a strange pickle to be in, for sure: looking Hispanic, but having no Latin identity whatsoever. Living in New York, most Latinos assume I'm one of them. They'll walk up to me and immediately fire off full-blown sentences in Spanish as if I can understand them. And sometimes I can. But most times, I cannot. Not completely, anyway. Inevitably this leads to a lot of confusion and, on rare occasion, some attempt at cultural shaming. This used to put me on the defensive, whereby I would tell the offending party to go have a talk with my dad and ask him why he couldn't get his shit together and include his son in on the cultural cues making up around one-half of his heritage. What little Spanish I do know, I learned in high school alongside most of my African American classmates. And although I did excel in these classes, it was due more to having a natural facility with languages, and not because of my last name. Sure, I'm certain everybody else assumed I was "slumming it" in Spanish class for the sake of increasing my GPA, but to this day I still cannot roll my r's for the life of me!

As for other cultural signalers--food, music, literature, pop art--I'm woefully ignorant. I couldn't tell you the difference between the merengue and salsa, although I vaguely know that they are both the names of dances from two different islands. What? You're wondering why I didn't do more to learn about my father's culture? Well, why should I? He never had any time for me, so why should I have honored him by doing the job he should have been doing all my life?

Yes, therein lies the heart of the problem. Any curiosity I might have had concerning the island nation from which my father and his family came from in the 1970s has been overruled by the anger from being abandoned at a very early age by him. My mother raised me alone, and her mother continued the job when her daughter was no longer with us. My father had ample opportunity to play a more active role in my life at that time--the man lived in the same city, after all! But he had no time for me, and so I had no time for him or his culture.

It's petty, yes, but for a long time this was how I felt. And now? Well, now that I'm getting older I find myself softening my views. I still lack a Latino identity, and know very little about Dominican culture specifically; but my natural inclination is to be curious about other cultures, and to value their values. In college I adopted Chinese as my culture. I learned the language and the history, loved the art and watched the movies. I read numerous books in Chinese, and even studied the classics in their original written forms! When I show an interest in a culture, I hold back no stops. So why should this be any different?

Yes, I really should try to do more to find out about the one culture I actually have genetic roots in. I will never have Dominican pride, because ultimately my nationality is American, and my culture that of my mother's Scots-Irish lineage. But I can do something to cultivate a social connection to the ways and lifestyles of my father's people as well. Even if I don't particularly like the man.

As far as the interesting issues Ms. Rojas raises in her article, I'm afraid I do not have the same luxury she does of choosing to be both. Being Latino is as alien to me as being Chinese. It's still the culture of the other in my mind. A friend asked me once: "Which do you consider yourself? Hispanic or White?" And to which I replied easily: "White." What else could I say? To say I'm Latino is a gross exaggeration. It's not a question of being repelled by my own background, but one of familiarity. I know all about the American culture to which most white people in this country can ascribe. It is my comfort zone. It is the love I have for my mother.

But about being Latino? What the hell do I know about that? What right do I have to lay such claim beyond the verity of my features and bearing the last name of my Caribbean ancestors? Because, to right now say that I'm Dominican would to be to only pay it lip service. And I'm sorry, but I refuse to be so disingenuous.

So, I ask of the world the same question as Ms. Rojas, except in the inverse: Why must I acknowledge both sides at all? Why not just connect to that one side that has always been there for me, and be who I feel myself to be? Being both, I should have the right to choose which one I identify with the most. And in that case, I'm not white nor Latino--soy Americano.

I am American! And America means being both or neither, or the sum of all the parts. It means whatever I decide it to mean for myself, on my terms.

Or shouldn't it?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Top 10 Crushes From Hollywood's Golden Age

Could this be the start of a tradition here on The Bimillennial Man?

Some of you may recall a few months back when I posted the Top 10 TV Crushes of My Youth. It turned out to be a very popular post which brought in a lot of hits to this site. And so I thought it would be fun to follow up with another Top 10 Crushes list -- but this time hailing back, back, back to way before I was born. That's right, to Tinsel Town's heyday, when studios were only as big as the glamorous stars they contracted to headline their films.




You might think I'm too young to have been influenced by some of the greatest beauties to grace the silver screen ... and you'd be thinking wrong! I happen to be a movie buff, sure, but actually I used to watch a lot of black & white movies on tv as a kid with my grandma. Not only on broadcast and cable television, but by way of the rather extensive video collection she, my aunt and my uncle kept in the house. When we moved in with them, curiosity and sheer boredom alike provided the twin impulses to check out a lot of these films. And with them, the opportunity to develop major crushes on some of Hollywood's biggest names of the day.

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