Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Obama Must Do

I must say, I haven't blogged in a while, but when I did, I expected I would write about a turning point in my acting career. "Starring in a National Commercial" or "Series Regular on a New TV Series". And while I am still hoping to write that blog in the future (preferably in the near future), instead I find myself wanting to talk about politics.

Indeed, the 2008 US Presidential Election has been engaging to say the least. From a highly contested Democratic Primary, to the Obama acceptance speech at Mile High, to Sarah Palin, the campaigns have been charged. Obama, who once enjoyed a 9-point lead in the Gallup Polls, has fallen to a statistical dead heat with McCain, now down 2-points, 47-45.

I'll admit that while I still have questions about the feesability of some of Obama's plan, he's still the best candidate out there, especially considering the egregious lies the McCain-Palin camp has pushed (Just check out www.factcheck.org or www.politifact.org to sift through several of their lies). Unfortunately, the strategy appears to be working, and Obama's message of "More of the Same", feels like, well, more of the same.

As a concerned Obama supporter (who, for the first time in my life, donated to a presidential campaign), I felt I had put in my two cents in what Obama must do to win, and it starts with his first Presidential debate, on September 26th. The strategy is quite simple, really, although the aftermath could be quite ugly, and whether Obama has the guts to do this remains to be seen. But there's no more efficient way to the presidency...

Release "Hothead McCain".

So far, the Democrats have left McCain's character untouched, even calling him a "war hero", and instead trying to debate McCain on the issues. But if there's any indication from the last two Presidential elections (and probably even farther than that), this election will not be won on the issues. Democrats have had better ideas on domestic and foreign policy for the last eight years, and yet they've lost repeatedly because issues and policy discussion doesn't resonate among the voters. You know what does? Scandal.

Republicans have character assassinated Democrats with great effectiveness, from Bill Clinton's Monicagate to the Swift-Boating of John Kerry. Fortunately for Obama, he can turn the tables because McCain has laid the ammunition for Obama to use. So here's what Obama must say in this debate:

* John McCain is a liar.
* McCain lied about Obama's education policies, and Obama's own criticisms, to name a few.
* McCain lied about Palin's opposition to earmarks, even though Palin accepted $200 million in earmarks for the "Bridge to Nowhere" project.
* The media has corrected McCain on numerous occasions, and yet he still spreads the lies. McCain will restore dignity to the White House?
* With every lie, John McCain dishonors the United States, dishonors democracy, dishonors his own campaign and supporters, and spits in the face the American People.
* John McCain, the war hero, was an honorable man. John McCcain, the Republican Presidential Candidate, is a disgrace.

Obama must challenge McCain's character every chance he gets. If Obama pushes enough buttons, McCain will reach a breaking point and turn "Hothead", which will ultimately lead to a Howard Dean-esque political meltdown from which he can't recover.

Obama may feel that he would be stooping to the Republicans level, but he doesn't have to worry about that. Because he'd telling the truth. McCain created the mudhole. It's time Obama forces McCain to wallow in it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

One Wild December: The Wiz Kidz

It's December 29, 2007, about 1:30 in the morning, and I am here in Oakland, California, in the house where I lived for 18 years, where I'm finally able to catch my breath after the busiest six weeks of my life. And what could keep me so busy? Three simultaneous acting projects. Nuts.

I should have been blogging about these projects during their runs, but I guess late is better than never, and maybe it will help now that I have a little perspective on things. Each project was very special, and take a tremendous amount of pride in each of them. Having endured through all the rehearsals, shooting schedules, and performances, I can say that my confidence as an actor is at an all-time high, and I have no doubts whatsoever about my talent or ability. I only have to wait for the opportunity... but I digress.

Each day, I will dedicate one entry each day to each project. Today: The Wiz Kidz.

Project Title: The Wiz Kidz
Children's TV Show (Pilot)
Top: Holly Fletcher. Middle Row: Maxwell Glick, Zorana Edun, Tina Ferraro, Jacob Nixon, Rob Westin, Randy Bautista. Bottom Row: Robert Acinapura, Nikki Blackwell, Selyna Arciaga, Auti Angel, Egypt Reale, Rae Toledo

I'll admit it; I did not envision a children's TV show to be a stop on my road to superstardom. But then I remember speaking with Pamela, the writer and producer, right after I had left callbacks, and sometimes you just get this feeling in your gut that tells you that you have to be part of this. Before the callback had began, Pamela talked about how she envisioned The Wiz Kidz as a group with diverse backgrounds, and teaching kids from all walks of life how they could be successful so long as they believed in themselves and took action. The callback in and of itself was unique in that the production team encouraged this idea of teamwork between the actors as opposed to competition. So when Pamela called me back a few days later saying I was cast, among all things, a dancer, how could I say no?

After three weeks of rehearsals and about five weeks of jazz dance classes, the shoot date had finally come. I was only in one scene: Divine's Dance Ball. The Wiz Kidz had just completed their adventure, and now was their chance to celebrate. As you could see above, we were an eclectic bunch! We had a ballerina, a fairy whose wings always seemed to tilt to one side, a martial artist who bore a striking resemblance to Ralph Macchio, and a spirited paraplegic dancer who sported dollar- and penny-sign spinners on her wheelchair. Awesome!

This was my very first experience shooting on a sound stage, and it was quite the experience. First of all, the floor consisted of turf and concrete, the kind of stuff that will ruin your joints should you decide to dance on them. Secondly, to set up the camera and the lighting for each shot takes about 20-40 minutes. Lastly, you want to give the post-production team a large variety of shots to choose from when they do editing, so you are getting about 5 to 6 takes for every shot. Which means lots of repetition. And more repetition. And then some more repetition. The grind started to wear on me. I started to internally whine and complain, until I realized that this is what you WANTED, and that opportunities are going to spring from this, so I told myself shut up and do it again.

Fortunately, the cast and the production team were really upbeat and professional, and before I knew it, it was 7:30 PM, 12 hours after I had arrived on set, and it was all over. I owe tremendous gratitude to Pamela, Maria, Loren, and all the cast and crew for just making this an amazing and gratifying experience! Of course, after The Wiz Kidz wrapped, there wasn't any time to rest on my laurels...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Come See My Play!

If you are wondering why I haven't been blogging in a while, it's because I've had rehearsals for my play, The Sun No Longer Rises in the East, and I want you all to come!

These are all the performance dates:

New Hope Community Church (FHLCBC)
3041 Peck Road, El Monte, CA 91732
Dec. 13, 8pm - $25
Dec. 14, 8pm - $15
Dec. 15, 8pm - $15
Dec. 20, 8pm - $15
Dec. 21, 8pm - $15

Coffee Gallery Backstage
2029 N. Lake Avenue, Altadena, CA 91001
Dec. 17, 8pm - $15
Dec. 18, 8pm - $15
Dec. 22, 2pm - $15
Dec. 23, 2pm - $15

Lake Avenue Church Maple St. Building
393 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Dec. 22, 8pm - $15
Dec. 23, 8pm - $15

Tickets can be reserved by calling 877-682-8777. When you order your tickets, make sure you mention my full name (Randy Bautista) as your referrer. As more show dates become available, I will let all of you know.

It's been a few years since I've been on stage, so this is something of a homecoming of sorts for me. It would mean so much if you all could come out and support. It's been a really challenging rehearsal schedule, but I'm extremely confident that the final product will be amazing! If you have any questions, please let me know. See you there!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are You F@&%ing Kidding Me?!?!?

Here's an idea, FEMA: when having a news conference on a natural disaster, don't use FAKE REPORTERS. It makes you look bad.

I swear, we all realized FEMA was incompetent during Katrina, but I didn't realize they were STUPID too...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Fall of the UC/CSU System

Thirty years ago, California had the #1 public education system in the nation. Then voters Proposition 13, and the K-12 schools started their decline. And now, according to the LA Times, with the state government slashing its budget and unwilling to raise taxes, our university system is also poised to fall from grace. As someone who grew up learning education was an important investment in our future, I am extremely appalled that we as a society are so willing to mortgage our future for a mediocre present.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Road To Success

A dear friend of mine accused me of not updating my journal enough. Of course, she was right. At the same time, I accused her of sheltering her xanga posts by not importing them to Facebook. So Trinh, I'm going to update, but in return, my faithful readers are going to know you exist. All's fair in love and online journals.

I was reading Trinh's xanga about her non-profit work in the Gulf Coast. Trinh and our mutual friend, Lynne (and yes, that rhymes), have been in Biloxi, Mississippi for the past month helping the Vietnamese community there recover from Hurricane Katrina. Although the media has moved on to sexier stories, the struggle to rebuild the Gulf Coast continues, and there is still much work to be done. Trinh's pictures in her xanga tell the story far better than my words every could, so I will leave that story to her. But as I finished reading Trinh's entry, her last line had struck a chord:
"It's been overwhelming, and the work is draining, no doubt. I've outreached to at least 120 houses in four days, so it's no surprise that I'm constantly tired. What surprises me though is that I already feel like my morale is low, and it's only the beginning..." - Trinh's Xanga
My first reaction was to immediately post a comment about how Trinh should keep her head up and how her work was truly making a difference. The world needed more people like Trinh and Lynne, people who dreamed of a better world and took action, and all I could think of was the tragedy it would be if either of them had lost hope! But as her words and my thoughts sank in, I started to think about my own dreams of becoming a great actor, and how my experience will be littered with obstacles and failures. Such is the universal human struggle: how do you succeed when the obstacles seem insurmountable?

When you have a destination, but the path is unfamiliar, you seek people who have taken the path before you. Thus, if I were to desire success, I must seek the successful. Enter Thomas Keller, executive chef and proprietor of the world-renowned French Laundry. After watching the amazing film Ratatouille, of which Keller served as a consultant, I was compelled to better understand Keller's love of food and its preparation. I started reading The French Laundry Cookbook, and within the first sentence of his introduction, Keller gets right to the point; great food starts with understanding its (and thus, the chef's) main purpose: to make people happy. But if you want to make others happy, you must find happiness yourself:
"For me, it's the satisfaction of cooking every day: tournéing a carrot, or cutting salmon, or portioning foie gras - the mechanical jobs I do daily, year after year. This is the great challenge: to maintain passion for the everyday routine and the endlessly repeated act, to drive deep gratification from the mundane."
- Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook
Reading the first paragraph alone got me thinking about love, and I came to a two revelations:
1. Love is NOT a more intense version of like.
I don't always like the people I love, and some of the things I love to do require things I'd rather do without. So LIKING something is not a prerequisite for LOVING something.
2. Love is about truly understanding the necessity of an action to accomplish a greater dream.

The true struggle of love lies in connecting our actions with the unrealized result. I may not like sitting in front of a computer for 30 minutes submitting to casting calls, nor do I like driving 30 minutes out of my way for an audition, nor do I like juggling two part-time jobs in order to keep a flexible schedule, but if I truly love acting, then I know all of this will lead to the realization of my dream. The better I connect these actions to my dream, the closer I reach Keller's ideal: that I will appreciate submitting to casting calls, and driving, and juggling the part-time jobs. (The great irony is that in indulging in the appreciation of the actions leading to success, you actually realize success in the present. In other words, taking the actions to be successful BECOMES SUCCESS ITSELF.)
So maybe the key to success is appreciating what we are doing now, and having faith that our actions will lead us to greater successes. Biloxi may have a long way to go, but Trinh and Lynne, you have my faith. And just maybe, you might find success sooner than you think.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Dissenter

If you have a bit of time on your hands, I suggest reading this great article in the NY Times about Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who is considered the leader of the liberal bloc of the Court. With the current Supreme Court polarized along partisan lines, and questions about the ability of the Court to remain unaffected by political pressures abound, it is heartening to know that people like Justice Stevens still believe in the idea of an impartial government that does not cow to personal or political agendas.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

So I have a new favorite show: Tim Gunn's Guide To Style. Normally I don't go for makeover shows; I feel like they're used to show off the designers, to show how much cooler and more stylish they are than everyone else. What's worse, the ones getting made over are totally silenced (because it was their bad taste that got them there anyway), while they're placed on a makeover assembly line, with each "expert" placing their own superficial mark on the subject, until the makeover-ees get to the end of the line, make their family and friends cheer for one fleeting moment, and then go back home, and all I can think is "in 24 hours, they'll be back to square one."

But Guide To Style is different. Instead of Gunn and his beautiful fashion accomplice, supermodel Veronica Webb, imposing their opinions like theirs are the only ones that matter, they dig deeper and really try to understand their makeover subjects, and why they choose to wear what they wear. While they provide guidance, Gunn and Webb never actually decide what their subjects should wear; it's up to the women themselves to discover their own style, and what feels right to them.

After watching the first three episodes, you'll find that a pattern emerges. All of the subjects on the show, to varying degrees, have the same problem: they all cling onto a past that doesn't reflect their present. One woman was in her 40's with a husband and daughter, and yet believed her 20's were the pinnacle of her life. Another woman had lost a tremendous amount of weight, but still dressed like she was 300 lbs. Another woman had moved around a lot, and believed she always had to blend in with each changing environment. As a result, all of them wore clothes that were unflattering, hugged them in the wrong places, and simply weren't them. As Gunn would say, they didn't "own" their look. Which of course made me ask the question, "did I own my look"?

After finishing the first episode, I immediately went down to my room started going through my own closet. Within that jungle of hangers and cloth, I found the same problem that haunted all these women; I had t-shirts from my college days, random underwear of different sizes and styles, dress shirts that were too big, worn out tops that were washed out and dull, etc. I wondered what was it in my psyche that urged me to keep these clothes, and what did I have to do to let go of my past, and embrace my present.

Ironically, my past was all about my future. Growing up, I was constantly reminded about the promises of the future. My parents both immigrated from the Philippines, constantly reiterating how important it was for them to give their children a better life. I had two older sisters who, by their presence alone, reminded me what my future had in store. It was a wonderful message that inspired hope and longevity.

But with all the reminders about the wonders of the future, I somehow twisted and corrupted the message into believing that the present wasn't good enough. I had to act older. I had to act wiser. I had to be in control. I had to anticipate all the consequences. I had to constantly think about the future. And my clothes reflected that. Very rarely did I have clothes that actually fit me. I always wore clothes that were a few sizes too large, anticipating that I would grow into them. Ironically, once I grew into those clothes, they wore out, so I would end up buying new clothes that wouldn't fit me!

So in that closet, I made the conscious decision to only wear things that fit me. I cleaned out most of my t-shirts and underwear, and stuck them into my luggage to be stored away in Oakland. I then went shopping at Ross (I may need to update my style, but I'm still on a budget), and only bought clothes that really felt right. My wardrobe transformation isn't quite complete, but I've got a good start. I also know I have a long way to go.

Clothes are superficial, but fashion is about how clothes make you feel. Ultimately, Guide To Style is about more than just designer clothes; it's about finding one's own confidence and self-worth. Because the right outfit won't disguise you; it will showcase who you truly are. And you are beautiful.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What a Weekend!

So last weekend was one for the ages. I returned to Oakland to witness my oldest sister getting married! There are too many things to write about, and I hope over the next few weeks I can address them all. But in the meantime I'll just take things one at a time. So I begin this series of articles with:

Chapter One: She Picked the One

I remember when I first met my sister's would-be-husband a few years ago, and he made a nice impression. I liked him. But inside, I wasn't sure if he was THE ONE. My sister has had close calls before, and I couldn't help but be skeptical. Even after the engagement, I wondered whether they were getting married just because they were getting older and were just settling for each other. On the day of the wedding, I would find out if he was for real.

The day of the wedding didn't quite start off the way I would've liked. I was scheduled to sing for both the wedding ceremony and the reception, and I had no practice with my cousin who was taking care of the accompaniment. So I stayed with him the night before, assuming that everyone there knew they should be at the church about an hour before the wedding started. Well, forgetting that Filipinos believe nothing is ever on time anyway, I got there a good 10 minutes before we were set to start. Oh, and because I didn't have time the night before to pack my clothes, my parents had to bring my clothes to the church.

So there I was, still in my sweats and T-shirt, in the lobby of the church, ten minutes before I was to sing "Ave Maria" for the opening procession. I ran to the side room where my sister, who was absolutely stunning in her wedding dress, was just listening to her iPod. I changed, explaining why I was late, AND that my cousin didn't know he was supposed to play accompaniment to "Ave Maria," and we had to go to a backup plan.

"Here it comes," I thought. Here was my oldest sister who, while I always loved her, was known as a big nagger. She would always order me around, trying to impose her authority as the oldest, and as the youngest, I would rebel. I felt she would try to correct me whenever she had a chance. And now, having already messed up on what's supposed to be the greatest day of her life, I expected my sister to go ballistic. And she had every right to be.

But she surprised me that day. She just told me not to worry about it. She said she knew I would get to the wedding as soon as I could. And that the regular church organist was there as a backup, that she was a pro, and she could play for the opening procession. She had a quiet confidence I had never seen before. She had this sense that in the end, everything would work out. It was almost like the wedding itself was a formality. This wasn't a big transition into marriage. The transition had already happened. She picked her man.

For most of my adolescent and adult life I've been skeptical about love. I saw too many instances of cliche, of childish notions of "Happily Ever After," of infatuations filled with roller-coasters of drama. But at that split second, on Saturday, September 8th, 2007, at 1:55 PM, when I saw my sister just sitting there in her wedding dress, listening to her iPod, when that skepticism melted away. My sister found THE ONE. And there's no one on Earth who deserved it more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is There Anything Good About Men?

No, it's not the title of a best-selling feminist book. It's a speech given by Roy F. Baumeister, a Psychology professor at Florida State University, last Friday at the American Psychological Convention in San Francisco. Instead of espousing the superiority or deficiency of one gender over the other, Dr. Baumeister suggests to look at gender difference as the result of the ways successful societies (and when we refer to "successful", we refer to the ability to survive and maintain itself) have exploited both men and women. I had understood before the idea that women were biologically more valuable than men, but this talk better articulates how that idea manifests itself in gender motivations and actions. A very fascinating read. What do you all think?

Link To NY Times Article

Link To Full Speech