Sunday, March 27, 2016

Batman vs. superman

   There were brief moments that I liked, shoutouts to the comics that I liked but overall I didn't think it was great. Everything I thought going into it (it's going to take itself too seriously, they're going to fight for a really short amount of time, Jessie Eisenberg is going to be a mumbly twitchy all lex Luthor and the worst part of the movie) I was absolutely right about. 
That said, when they were fighting I was thinking, kick his ass Bats !!
Looking forward to Captain America in May.
Oh, OOOH ... 2nd worse thing. Batman = no guns, nobody dies. 
This batman= okay, f it , GUNS and snapping necks. 
That ain't batman. 
Okay, off soapbox....

Saturday, January 2, 2016

This is for Aalderaan, BITCH !!!!

Hashtag Star Wars

Okay , this has been bothering me all day... 

Nerd rant in ...3...2...1 :

If Leia was a better shot than Luke or Han (she was shooting fucking stormtroopers in the throat for gosh sakes) then WHY wasn't she in the X-wing making the Death Star run?!? 
I mean your going to trust the ONE shot you have at this thing, this ultimate weapon, on some farm boy who CLAIMS he can pick off womp rats (rebels didn't even make him prove it. They all, "yeah, he seems legit"). 

Was she too important as a princess for Aalderaan and its peopl....ahhh too soon? 
They friggin destroyed everyone she knows and instead of jumping in a X wing and getting some sweet payback they keep her in the control room and are like, " get them medals ready... Oh, we don't have one for chewie? Ahhh nobody'll care"

Okay, rant over.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Something happened on Hoth

Rewatch Empire. It takes place, roughly, 2 years after A New Hope ( I think). And in that time he's just hanging out with the princess in the rebel alliance, doing side missions we don't know about and trying to set up a base on Hoth. 

It's cold on Hoth.

So... In That moment when Vader tells Luke he's his father, that look like he's about to throw up that Luke gives them, that's NOT cause his dad's Vader. It's cause he knows... KNOWS... Deep down... He knows he's not the only orphan... There IS another... And what they did... (Not saying it was a HR, but like maybe 3rd base) and how this is going to bring up issues later on at the Skywalker family reunion... 

If you want further proof look at Leia's reaction in Jedi when she figures out Luke's her bro. She kind a looks over to the side like "oh. (Half second pause.. Then) OH, shit"

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I've waited a year to write this...

A year ago today I gave myself the best early birthday present I could think of.
I quit my job.
I left a 25-30+ hour job, WITH BENEFITS, at Starbucks, to roll the dice on a seasonal job at Crate & Barrel with no guarantee of a regular gig. It had the potential to blow up in my face and be the dumbest move I'd ever make in my working life. 

Since then, people have asked me, "do you miss Starbucks?"

The answer: not for one second.

But, the truth is this : I don't miss the job, I do miss the people.

Through Starbucks I've met some interesting people over the years. 

In my years as a barista, I've met some  the greatest people I've ever known. People I'm lucky to call friend. People who I've stayed in contact with no matter what store I've worked for. People who give me a heartfelt " I'm proud of you" when I share my ups. And offer to buy me a beer and let me bend their ear when I share my downs.
These people I take with me wherever I go.

But I've also seen some of the laziest sacks of crap in the history of crap.. get promoted over me. I've seen some of the worst examples of how to treat a person reflected in how the customers treat the baristas. (Not all the customers were bad).  I've been cursed at. I've been called a number of racist things. I've even been spit on. In my last year wearing the apron, I had the misfortune of working for one of the most condescending, pompous sacks of rat shit this earth has ever produced. Someone who would take daily jabs at the way I did my job. Someone who wouldn't give me 3 Saturday's off in a row so I could take a weekend class (this put me a semester behind). Someone who would say things like, "you need to work on (it was different everyday) but, you know, it's not all your fault. You were trained poorly cause you weren't trained by me" and "I noticed you get a venti drink each day, this is a waste of our cups. Do you NEED to have a venti? We have to save product. Either bring in your own cup or get a smaller size."
A conversation in which I asked, "what do I have to do to move up in this company?" was met with a smirk, a chuckle to himself and a change of subject. ( that was, in the end, the final straw).

These awful people, I let go... And wash away their negativity.

Working at c&b was so different. Apples & oranges, homie. The managers would say, "great job" and It would be a legit compliment. I was getting good feedback and enjoyed the work I was doing. It was like a 10lb weight being lifted off my chest. Though I was working, it almost seemed like a vacation from the stress I faced daily.

Some of my regular customers from Starbucks, ones who used to say "you're the best" as I handed them their drink, followed me into my new job and started coming into crate ... Because they knew I'd give them great customer service...

And then... When my seasonal job drew to a close... I was let go.

For 2 weeks, I didn't have a job. It was a scary time and I began to worry I'd put our future in jeopardy.

And then, one day as I drove to class, the manager called and said, " Tom, 
you did such a great job this season. We have an opening and would love for you to come back and work for us."

A year later, I'm still there. 

You know, once, just before I left Starbucks , my manager said, "you're just a guy who just punches in and punches out and doesn't do much extra"... Last month, at C&B, I was named one of the Associates of the quarter, for great customer service and "always willing to lend an extra hand". 
In the past year I've gone from just sales to also doing weekend demonstrations for products we have in the store to interviewing for a management position ( though I didn't get it, to even be considered was great and seemingly unfathomable at the bux) to, now, helping train this years seasonal workers.

The customers who recognize me from my old job sometimes comment how much happier I look.  

It's been a quick year and I just wanted to comment on it.... Cause that's what I do. I write. And, for taking the time to read, I thank you.

If nothing else from this writing , take this away: 
I punch in each day... Hustle, help people when I can and do my job to the best of my ability. I try to do this each day, like I've always done. Before, it used to be a struggle to find the strength to get up, put on my uniform and go to work. The difference between this year and the one before it is that though I do go home exhausted... I do not go home defeated.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Goodbye Mrs. Reyes

Last week I learned from my mom that mrs Reyes passed away. She was 95 and one of the toughest people I've ever met. We were not blood related... She was, in fact, my moms first mother in law ( both my parents were married before marrying and eventually having me). In my lifetime I maybe got to meet her in person only a handful of times. And yet, She always, without fail, for as long as I can remember, called me her grandson and asked for me whenever she talked to my mom. 

When I was in the 6th grade she sent me a black leather wallet with $5 in it. It was the first wallet I ever owned and, in all honesty, the same wallet I use today. She was, and is, a part of my family.

I only had one real true, blood related, grandma. Her name was Mary Louise Reyna ( Mamo) and I can't help but smile when I think about her.  She was nice and sweet, she used to take me to school. She could play the piano by ear and bought me my first comic book.

My moms mom was everything I could've ever asked for in a grandmother.

She was the complete opposite of Miss Valdespino .

Miss Valdespino, my dad's mom, was never much of a grandma. My first real memory of her was my dad begging her to hug me. I was maybe 5 at the time. The last time I saw her was at a Safeway, I walked up and put my arms out for a hug, she walked by as if she didn't know me.., though I know she knew who I was. I was maybe 20 ( this day is also notable as the only time I heard my Auntie Barbara swear as, upon miss Valdespino not acknowledge me, said, " what a bitch!!" as she walked by).

I've heard time and again that You Can't Choose your family. And over the years, I've learned this isn't true.

  I only ever had one grandmother ... And she was the best... But if I had to choose a second... It would've been mrs Reyes.

Family, as I've come to know and define it, is NOT who you are blood related to... Family is who is in your heart. They are the people you first think to contact when something great happens in your life, they are the people you call when you need help, they are the people who know they can count on you just as you know you can rely on them . Sometimes years or decades can go by, but that doesn't lessen the bonds of family you hold on to. The ones you create.  You simply pick up where you left off.

As I type this, I'm in the house of my Aunty Marty in LA. And though we are not blood related she has been my Aunt since before I was born. 
It's nice to see and visit with my family here in LA. Even if I'm here  to say goodbye to one of them tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2014

25 years: Earthquake of '89

25 years ago today a young Tommy was rushing through his home work, both my parents were home and we were getting ready to watch The Giants vs. The A's in the World Series!!! And that's when the ground started to shake. "Mom", I said as she was standing in the doorway. "it's okay, just a little earthquake" and then when it DIDN'T STOP shaking, I ran to the doorway. As I did this, the glass cabinet I was sitting infront of collapsed on the chair I was sitting in seconds before. One more moments hesitation and I'd have been hurt badly. I had a small cut on my leg from shattered glass but otherwise we were okay. We were lucky. There wasn't any power for awhile and once it came back we saw our city in ruins. The seemingly endless, depressing aftershocks... The stories of people trapped in the collapsed bay bridge .., they pulled a guy named Buck Helm out of the bridge...Alive... It gave the city hope... Sadly, he did live long after that... Images of houses in the Marina being help up by wooden planks for people to get out of their  homes as the houses were literally sinking into the ground...
Even as The storyteller I am today, I don't think I could've made stuff like this up. This was real life. And watching the news as an 8 ( about to be 9) year old, it was scary. I didn't go to school for a week. And then when the World Series resumed, Oakland kicked SF ass. UGGGH.
I was lucky though, at the time many people in my family were living on the same block and nobody was really hurt. We were able to be together. Many families weren't.
If you were too young to remember the quake of '89, it's hard to fully capture how crazy the whole thing was... You can read about it or watch videos... Watch the "earthquake" episode of "Full House"...  But I was there, actually in it...and the memories of that day have stayed with me, vivid, as the day they happend. I suspect they always will.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tommy wrote a comic book....

This is a photo of me, Tom Valdespino,  inking the last page on "My Hero vs. His Mind", my very first comic!! ( photo credit: Ashley G)

I love comic books. Always have and, I suspect, always will. 

For most, when you hear " comic book " you think superheroes in costumes fighting bad guys. BOOM!! POW!! However, this is not the case as, just like with novels, there is literally something out there for everyone. 

Stories of love, loss and family. Stories that will make you laugh, stories that will break your heart. Stories, told in sequential art, that I dare say, at times. top their prose counterparts. 

My love of comics goes back as far as I can remember...

Starting when I was four years old with "Transformers #3", the first comic I ever remember owning, comic books helped teach me how to read. 

And if you know nothing else about me, know this: Reading is as important to me as breathing. I need to do both each day to survive.

When I was a teenager, I stopped buying comics. I wish I had a better excuse than because it "wasn't cool". Still, every now and again I'd pick up a Wizard magazine " just to see what was happening".

As I got older, cared less ( than eventually didn't care at all) of what others thought I reignited my love of comics. I realized there was more than capes and cowls, jokers and madmen, there were personal stories and autobiographical comics of everyday people. They weren't like me neccisarily but they were good stories to read.

Around this time, in my late teens and early twenties, I started writing more and more. I hesitated to show this to anyone.

When I was 22 I wrote a 250 page novel. It took me 4 months.  I showed it to a few people ( people I knew, friends and family) who seemed to like it. It's called "kaleidoscope" and is about a guy in his 20s raising his young nephew. It remains unpublished. Though, in writing about it now I may one day revisit it.

In the fall of 2012 I decided to go back to college. In addition to all the classes I HAD to take, I took an English class "just for fun". That class was called "The Graphic Novel as Literature" and for our final project we had to write and draw our very own comic.

For my final I decided to write about my Uncle Bobby... And his lifelong battle with schizophrenia. 

And though I'm no artist (I can hardly draw a straight line) the story, both true and heartbreaking, was universal. Nobody wants to see someone they love suffer.

I entered this final project in a comic contest that year at DVC. And, to my surprise, it won an award. I was given art supplies at an award ceremony and everything !!

But the best part of that award ceremony was several of the judges (teachers in English and Art at DVC) telling me I should continue to work on the story. "You've really got something here, Tom."

There were many starts and stops, times work and school got in the way, an entire summer where I didn't know what to draw next... Two years have gone by... But last week, ironically on National Comic Book Day, I finally finished.

"My Hero vs. His Mind" is about my Uncle Bobby and his battles with schizophrenia. Though he's struggled with the voices in his head my whole life it's only in the last few years that they've gotten too loud to ignore.

Not many people, outside of my family, know about this. And it wasn't/isn't easy to write or talk about. It's not easy to write this now.
But his story is an incredible one, everyday he fights to not listen to the voices... And this story was one I felt needed to be shared.

And because you're my peeps... You can read the first few pages here...

I've loved comics my entire life... But never did I think in them I'd find a new medium in which to tell stories of my own.

Where I'm at now:

With principle drawing and writing done I'm researching where to submit it for publication... Or, more likely, where to dip my toes into the seemingly scary world of self publishing .

One way or another,  " My Hero vs. His Mind" will come out one day. I will see to it.

When it does cone out , I will let you know... Bring money !! Haha.

In the meantime, working on this has broken open the creative floodgates... There may be more stories coming hopefully sooner than later... And I'm incredibly happy that I have a new way in which to tell them.

Thank you for reading , thank you for believing in me...