I don't normally do this, but I was tagged by Jenn aka The Dirty Blonde in her recent posting.
So, according to that post:
I don't really think all that much is surprising about myself, so I'll be using some of Jenn's things as inspiration.
1. I don't really eat pork or red meat all that much.
In college, my cholestrol got a little skyrockety and I freaked out a bit. So, I decided to cut out pork and red meat of my diet. Pork was pretty easy to give up. Having grown up listening to hip hop, I already had a lot of anti-swine influence thanks to the Nation of Islam / Five Percenter / Nation of Gods & Earths influence on rappers. I imagine that the Wu-Tang Clan is probably the most well-known in the mainstream of that particular strain.
I distinctly remember them openly condemning Now & Laters (they contain gelatin which sometimes has some porky parts) and Method Man complaining to The Source about a Rolling Stone writer inaccurately describing him eating a slice of pepperoni pizza.
While volunteering at God's Love We Deliver in New York, the head chef was aghast at my avoidance of the pig: "What kind of Mexican doesn't eat pork?"
That's a really good question because growing up Mexican (aka carne-asada-ville) made giving up red meat even tougher. On top of that, I had a horrible habit of picking up Big Macs on the regular.
Anyway, that cholestrol test killed that noise and once I went a few weeks without hamburgers, I found that I really didn't crave them all that much. I got pretty strict with keeping cute four-legged barnyard animals off my plate. My strictness was absolutely broken in 2002 when I visited Chicago for the first time. There was no way I was going to eat a Chicago-style pizza crammed with rabbit food instead of delicious deadness.
When I eat animal flesh, it's primarily chicken, turkey, or some sort of sea creature with pork or red meat on the occasional semi-special occasion that is semi-special. I went vegetarian for a couple of months last year and it just made me load up on carbs. I respect and admire the vegan lifestyle, but I just can't do it. If there were a way to squeeze milk, cheese, or honey out of kittens, I would leave a trail of tiny fur kites in my wake.
2. When I was a kid I was pretty certain that I was going to be either an astronaut or a basketball player. Or both.
The astronaut thing is pretty easy to explain - Is there anyone who grew up in the 80s that didn't want to be an astronaut at one time? Ron and Ryan, the homies of Modest Proposal Magazine, even had plans for a Phoenix standup comedy compliation CD called "We Wanted to Be Astronauts" at one time.
In grade school, I remember drawing a picture of myself in a Celtics uniform. Because of their recent championship, the Celtics were held up as the pinnacle of roundball so I figured that I'd be drafted by them. Once I found out about Michael Jordan, though, I ditched the parquet-floor-runners. I was such a hardcore Jordan and Chicago Bulls fan, and despite the fact that I want the Suns to finally bring home that trophy, I have quite the warm spot in my heart for the Bulls of the 90s. (Thanks to Free Darko and their notion of liberated fandom, I'm all about celebrating all of the best of everything in the world of basketball. I now sleep better at night.)
Anyway, you know that song "Like Mike" from the Gatorade commercials?
I have it on cassette single. It was done by a group called Teknoe (which was probably more of an in-studio band thing hired by whoever did the ads for Quaker Oats, who somehow owned Gatorade then).
Basketball in junior high was my love, passion, and obsession.
I was never much of an offensive force, but I had a knack for blocked shots. My defensive prowess earned me a nickname from my 7th grade coach, Mr. Nichols; Every once in a while, when I run into someone that I went to junior high with, they'll still use that moniker. (You can ask me about it in person.)
Mr. Nichols was a good coach and a solid dude. I ended up in the hospital for a spell and he totally came to visit me. Unfortunately, he visited while the NBA All-Star Game was going on and I had a tough time paying attention to him.
My 8th Grade coach, Mr. Skelton, was an Indiana-bred basketball purist. It's only looking back that I really, truly appreciate what he was trying to pass on to us and instill in us. He seemed like a cranky hardass at the time, but now, I just see how much love he had for the sport. If I ever get to coach youth basketball, I will totally be channeling him (as well as some of Tex Winters' triangle offense).
I started out playing forward and center because I was taller than a lot of kids back then. Also, my ballhandling skills were pretty clunky. I decided to spend the summer between junior high and high school practicing dribbling in my backyard. I put together a training program by culling exercises and drills from basketball books and put that together with stuff I made up and willed myself to be a better ballhandler. While I improved, I never became quite the basketball wizard that I envisioned. What I did do, though, helped when my growth slowed its roll and I ended up being guard-height.
I never made my high school team, but I kept up with a rec league and the hardcore streetball games we'd play at neighbor's house. The Castillos had a modified full court at their place. Nearly every night of the week and whole weekends were spent on that truncated court (with its rims at 8.5 feet or so), grinding out games whether in wintery chill or blazing summer heat.
In the spring of my sophomore year, during one of these backyard games, I went up for a rebound, heard a pop accompany my knee seizing up completely and then loosening, and fell to the ground. After a misdiagnosis that had me trying to play ball on my hobbled knee for over a year, it turned out that I had blown out my ACL.
That pretty much slowed me down until I finally had surgery a few years later. Then, I only played sporadically.
I just recently picked up playing again, though, and games have been tough but fun. So hooray for that!
Also, I'm now an improvisor so I can be a basketball player, astronaut, or a lion whenever I want.
3. I love stingrays!
August 2007 - I'm visiting New Orleans for the first time and my friend, Vaiden, who lives there has a membership to the aquarium. She gets me in for free and we look around. Everything's neat and all, but there's a petting tank filled with de-stingerized stingrays. I have the time of my life petting them!
I tried petting the stingrays at the Phoenix Zoo's Stingray Bay, but they're just not as personable.
I got to visit my New Orleans stingray babies in August 2008 and it was great. I will visit them again!
4. I tried NaNoWriMo two years ago and failed miserably.
NaNoWriMo is the movement / project to get people to try to write a novel in a month (that month being November). Rather than quality (though I'm sure quality works have been created through NaNoWriMo) the emphasis is on quantity / just plowing through and getting a novel done.
Knowing that, I kind of decided to write a novel that would be flexible / ridiculous enough to encompass anything that I might end up writing.
It was entitled The Clickity Clack of Dancing Skeletons, or Moby Dick 2: Electric Boogaloo. The novel was supposed to be a work that alternated between a quasi-autobiographical alternate world and my sequel to Melville's Moby Dick based on what I think probably happened after the events of the book that I never finished reading. At some point, the two worlds / stories would crossover and be amazing.
I figured out how many words I'd have to churn out per day (including my late start). I was able to keep up for a day or two and then it was like, fuck it!
A huge factor: the sheer amount of time it takes me to write. It's seriously taken me about two hours to poop out what you're currently reading.
5. I'm just a good ol' boy, never meaning no harm ...
Yes, my primary musical diet growing up was hip hop thanks to my cousin, good friends, my own curiosity, and listening to N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton while raising the American flag at my grade school's flagpole one morning in second grade. That's established.
I also listened to a ton of radio, which also explains my fondness / familiarity with so much 80s pop.
Outside of hip hop, though, the biggest influence on my musical taste was my godparents' love of country & western. I spent a lot of time with them and took quite a few roadtrips where they chose the soundtrack.
Luckily, though, it was nearly all Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Waylon Jennings with a dash of poppier country like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Also, I took in a pretty good dose of "Hee Haw" on the regular.
6. I really enjoy taking pictures and have acknowledged Phoenix art denizen, Kevin Patterson, as a huge influence.
Kevin takes tons of pictures tommy-gun-style, just ratta tat tat blammo! He's helped me appreciate capturing moments in all of their seemingly imperfectness. I think sometimes the fuzz of being out of focus or those wily, errant rays of light that pop up actually make things a little more true and, thus, actually a bit closer to perfect.
Now that I'm thinking about it Michelle, the other half of Dangerville, has also been a pretty significant influence on framing, use of space, and all of that good stuff.
7. I used to be painfully shy.
Now, I'm not. Mostly.
Okay, now my magnificent seven: