Friday, December 3, 2010

Morning Research: Jumbo Tex 60

Super Jumbo Tex 60 Minute is the industry's leading 60 Minute
weather-resistive building paper, with an unmatched track record of
performance in the field. It is a member of the Jumbo Tex product line
that has been chosen by builders and architects to protect over five
million homes and commercial buildings from the problems caused by water
intrusion and excessive moisture.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Afternoon Research: Is My Kid Smoking Pot? (.com)

The essential site for concerned parents--

Introduction: Is my kid smoking pot?
Chances are, if you've found this website, you're already asking yourself, Is my kid smoking pot? Rummaging through their personal belongings without anything more than parent's intuition will immediately alienate you from your teenager. With a better understanding of the signs, paraphernalia, and activities of a typical pot-smoker, it may be easier to relate to your teenager about their use of marijuana and approach him or her for a discussion. Our website incorporates the experiences of former teenage marijuana users in an attempt to provide parents with enough current information to be credible. This website is dedicated to providing a realistic, up-to-date look at the signs, symptoms, and possible proof that may answer the question once and for all, is my kid smoking pot?

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Morning Research: Tar

In Finland wood tar was once considered a panacea reputed to heal "even those cut in twain through their midriff". A Finnish proverb states that if sauna, vodka and tar won't help, the disease is fatal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

[Staglevision] on the land: the lambda literary writers' retreat

Dear friends and readers,

Like other fellows, I've had difficulty verbalizing how much the Lambda Literary Writers' Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices meant to me and to my writing.

I should start with a confession: before the retreat, I had my reservations about "Gay Writers' Camp." I've never really felt comfortable in mainstream gay culture. I don't parade my sexuality; I avoid West Hollywood clubs. I worried that the retreat would sacrifice craft for community, that celebrating queer identity would take precedence over the work itself. And I worried about putting myself out there. Would I be comfortable in an environment where my sexuality was such a salient issue? Would I fit in with the other queer writers? I'm a shapeshifter. Passing is my default, my defense.

Well, I quickly discovered that I didn't need to pass. Not here. As we went around the room sharing why we were here, so many of the writers' responses resonated with what I felt. They were here to reenergize their writing, to gift themselves time and space to write. They were looking for community to make the writing hours bearable and readers who wouldn't ask, "Now, by 'topping,' do you mean ice cream?" They wanted writing to be less painful. They wanted reassurance that they were "serious writers."

They knew me. They were like me. I felt so relieved and so grateful. For the first time, we were the majority. We queer writers defined the norm.

We were a diverse group. People of all ages, races, and genders united by a burning desire to write, to have our voices heard. We were DJs and academics, astrologists and former strippers. We were late bloomers. We had cool tattoos. We were fierce and spunky and hilarious and smart. The other fellows nudged me out of my shell. They asked me questions about my novel, teased me for lugging my tea stein to every class. Not only were the 32 other fellows extraordinarily talented, but they also amazed me with their sensitivity and understanding. For once, I could just be myself. And for someone who never felt quite at home in the queer community, this felt so supportive and safe. It was home.

That week in the hills of Bel Air was as thrilling and expansive as the first quarter of college. High above the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, I felt completely, refreshingly disconnected from my day-to-day concerns. Despite our packed schedule, the atmosphere was relaxed, everyone wagging their tails. We bonded in the dining hall over Raymond Carver and cold cuts, worked and laughed on the couches in the "Stud" Center. Friendships came easy: writing was our common language, authors our shared heroes and forebears. After readings, we drank beer (or tea) with our instructors and watched traffic twinkle up the 405. We danced in our dorm rooms. We giggled outside until 4 a.m. We shared anxieties about our work, composed impromptu poems in the computer cluster. Our conversations inevitably returned to writing. (And we took lots of photos!)

Our fiction workshop was rigorous. From 9 a.m. to noon, we sat in a windowless room around five tables that we dragged into a pentagon. Our instructor, Nicola Griffith, tailored the workshop to best serve our needs. Sacrifice craft for community? Not on her watch. On day one, she gave us a crash course in narrative grammar, point of view, dialogue, and story arcs. On day two, we began workshopping our writing samples. It wasn't always pretty; one by one, our samples were broken down so they could be built back up. Stopwatch in hand, Nicola kept us humble and succinct.

On the final day of class, she rallied us with these words:

You are the chosen few. The next generation of LGBT writers. The new queer fiction tradition starts right here, right now when you leave this room. You dozen are the Knights of the Pointy Table. You will lead the charge. Where will you take your people?

Being queer and being a writer are two identities that aren't easily disentangled. The retreat celebrated both. We wrote about our lives; we wrote to save lives. I left the retreat with a greater affinity to my community, and also a greater sense of responsibility.

As you all know, I've been working on my novel since graduating from Stanford. Four years now. And there are times when it's been murder. Times when I've sat in my room, unable to string words into a sentence, wondering, "How many more years?"

Not only did the Lambda retreat renew and empower me, but it reignited my passion for the novel. Nicola and the other fellows helped me remember what I loved about my book. What the novel could be, its possibility and promise. "Your characters haunted me," they said. They called my first chapter "evocative," "poetic," and "gutsy as hell." After I read Simon's transformation scene on Friday night, their excitement fueled me with a sense of urgency. This was a story that needed to be told, and only I could tell it. I left with a mission: Continue writing. Lead the charge.

Thank you to the Lambda Literary Foundation for this life-changing opportunity, and to the instructors and my fellow writers for giving me the tools, affirmation, and support I needed to keep going.


Video - Steven Tagle reads an excerpt from Encantado

Photos - 2010 Lambda Literary Writers' Retreat

Fiction instructor Nicola Griffith's recap

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Distinguished Aztec Academic Recognition Speech at Esperanza High School, 5-17-10


Thank you, Dr. Fox. When the PTSA invited me to speak to you last month, I had just turned 25, so your invitation officially ushered in my quarter-life crisis. For the first time in years, I dreamt about taking my AP exams again. I felt like I was returning for a pop quiz on my life. What have I done in the seven years since graduation? Of all the distinguished alumni, all the successful doctors, lawyers, and businessmen, why ask an aspiring filmmaker--a self-proclaimed "starving artist"--to address Esperanza's best and brightest?

It hasn't been long since I was in your shoes. Seven years ago, I sat in those same seats, fidgeting with my tie and crossing items off a checklist in my head. The night was young, and I still had much to do: Spanish vocab to memorize, prom plans to confirm, thespian initiation week, and an impending two-day calculus final. Not to mention those permanently uncheckable items: praying I kept my grades up so Stanford would still take me in the fall. The weight of parental expectation. And the huge question of the future. College. What came next.

I know the road to this point wasn't easy. Like you, I sacrificed a great deal to make the grades, to sit in that seat. Eight classes a day on alternating sides of the bridge, NHS and CSF meetings, Creative Impulse deadlines, drama rehearsals, then a pile of homework and six hours of sleep or less before I woke up to do it all over again. On weekends, I wrote college essays and studied for the SAT. I traveled to debate tournaments. And dealt with my share of high school drama: fall outs with friends, parental spats, the zit-inducing terror of dating.

What would I have told my 18-year-old self? As a student sitting in your seat, what would I have wanted to hear? Though I haven't lived long enough to give you life's big picture, I can offer you a glimpse into the years ahead and share some of the insights I've gathered along the way.

One question I'm often asked--a question I ask myself from time to time--is "Was it worth it?" Was college worth four years of stressful all-nighters? Was it worth a high school experience more Glee than Gossip Girl? If I found myself back in ninth grade, would I choose the same path?

I still remember my first trip down Palm Drive, the main entrance to Stanford's campus. It's a dense, mile-long road lined by towering palm trees that completely obscure campus. Until you reach the Oval. Then the road opens to reveal a stunning vista of red-roofed, sandstone buildings and the golden face of Memorial Church, set against a backdrop of sprawling foothills. It kicked the breath out of me. Stanford.

I'd spent my high school career traveling down this road, slogging through research papers and DBQs, hoping my hard work would pay off. And in the end, those sacrifices led me to an intellectual paradise I'd call home for the next four years. Four years that spread like Stanford's campus before me, to be made into whatever I wanted. Was it worth it? You bet it was worth it. The novels you read, the supply and demand curves you drew, the Immex modules and Wordly Wise assignments you completed were worth it. The time you spent curled up with your graphing calculator was worth it.

Let me give you an idea of the mind-blowing college experience that awaits you. Freshman year, you take a seminar with David Kennedy, author of your AP US History textbook. In Psych One, you discover that half the psychologists you've been studying have offices in the building. Your English department attracts writers like J.M. Coetzee, Joyce Carol Oates, and Annie Proulx. Graduates from your school have founded Google, Yahoo!, and Hewlett-Packard. Opportunity is as abundant as the palm trees. Genius wears flip-flops and a t-shirt. And instead of taking mandatory, Honors track classes, you're free to pursue your intellectual passions, whether it be collaborating on a 250-page graphic novel or designing the next killer iPhone app.

Freshman year, I lived with a ballet dancer from New York, a mathematician from Michigan, and a medic from Hong Kong. My friend Jack was a history major from El Paso, and if you gave him any number from 1 to 44, he could tell you the US president.

Swapping late-night stories in the dorm hallway, I realized just how sheltered my life had been. You've proven yourselves to be the top students here at Esperanza, but the world is much bigger than Yorba Linda, than this school. Let your classmates' perspectives challenge and enrich you. What you learn from them will be just as valuable as what you learn in class.

Like my friends, I too became distinguishable by my passions. Instead of being known as the smartest kid in class, I was known as a writer and filmmaker. My dormmates became my enthusiastic acting troupe. They crewed my film shoots, read parts in my staged readings, and even performed an interpretive dance I wrote to celebrate the end of daylight savings.

These early dorm projects soon led to more professional productions. As a junior, I wrote and directed MODEL MAN, a film about a female Pygmalion who constructs a wind-up robot. Stanford grant money allowed me to hire Bay Area actors and rent professional video equipment to boost the film's production value. Now let me tell you a little secret: I'd never produced a film on that scale before. Applying for grants, securing locations permits, and planning a three-day film shoot were all new to me. I learned how to make a film by making that film.

Stanford provided me with countless other opportunities for which I was not strictly qualified. The summer after my freshman year, I worked at the California First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit organization promoting free speech and open government. As a sophomore, I taught fellow undergrads in Psych One discussion sections. I studied abroad at Oxford, where my English tutor required me to write a 10-page research paper on a new novel every week. And for my senior honors thesis, I completed three drafts of ENCANTADO, my first novel.

These experiences taught me that you should do everything before you're ready. Don't let self-doubt or fear of failure prevent you from taking opportunities that may seem out of reach. In many cases, the most important qualification is a willingness to learn. It's what my boss calls "being a stem cell": position yourself beyond your abilities, then grow into the role. Even if you don't succeed, you'll learn how to do it better the next time around. I'm all about efficiency, and a steep learning curve is the most productive way to learn. It means you'll gain a ton of experience in no time at all.

When I graduated from Stanford, a mentor suggested I submit a documentary to Current TV, an award-winning cable news channel and website. In the fall of 2007, Current was looking for human stories that addressed important election issues. Though I'd never made a documentary before, I submitted a piece, and the next thing I know, Current was flying me out to New Hampshire to cover the presidential primary. I found myself at Nashua town halls and Manchester meet and greets, chasing presidential hopefuls across snow-covered highways. My job was to keep candidates talking about the issues: US power, consumption, the economy, and the role of government.

In that whirlwind week, I learned to appreciate the power of documentary journalism: how my coverage allowed viewers to access the primary through the eyes of someone their age, and how documentary filmmaking in particular bridged the divide between personal and political, illustrating the very real impact of government policies in people's lives.

My experience at the primary also drew on many of the interests and skills I began developing in high school. It was a chance to see, in action, the electoral process I read about in Mr. Matthews' government class. It was an opportunity to employ journalistic skills I honed while editing the newspaper with Ms. Cummings. Four years of debate and drama enabled me to speak eloquently in front of the camera. US history with Mrs. Amann gave me an awareness of the historical moment.

Which is all to say that education is never passive. It's never sitting at a desk with a book pressed to your head. It's more like a dinner party, absorbing other's ideas so you have enough context to add your own voice to the mix. Hunger for new knowledge will keep you relevant. Openness to new perspectives will keep you young. Congratulations on all you've done and all you've yet to do. I look forward to hearing great things from you, my fellow overachievers. Thank you.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

My reading is tonight!

Dear friends and readers,

The excerpt's been chosen, the restaurant reserved, and everything is ready for tonight. I can't wait to see all you guys for my first official reading since moving down to LA.

A few last minute notes:
--We'll be out on the patio, so bring a sweater.
--I'm reading last, so if you think you might be a little late, that's ok. Still come!

Reading Special:
Preorder Spork 9.1 and receive ENCANTADO, Chapter 1 at

After the reading, join me across the street for appetizers (sweet potato fritters, calamari, cheese and charcuterie) and drinks (Sprite or stronger!) at the charming Allston Yacht Club.

Homo-Centric Reading Series @ Stories Books and Cafe
Thursday, March 18 at 7:30pm
Stories Books and Cafe
1716 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Afterparty @ Allston Yacht Club
Thursday, March 18 at 9:30pm
Allston Yacht Club
1320 Echo Park Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Thank you everyone for your support. I can't wait for tonight!


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