The Liebster Award

Much blog love goes out to The Legends of Windemere for nominating me for a Liebster Award. ‘Liebster’ translates from German to ‘dearest’ in English, and with that in mind, it’s pretty awesome that Charles Edward Yallowitz considered my work worth the read. Don’t miss his book Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero available now at Smashwords, and for the Kindle.

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The Liebster award is designed for bloggers with less than 200 followers, and at present I’ve got a grand total of 63 followers. The fact that people beyond my blood relations read my work is humbling. So, here goes:

The rules are:
* Share eleven facts about yourself with your fellow bloggers.
* Make sure to answer the awarder’s eleven questions.
* Ask eleven questions of your own.
* Nominate eleven bloggers for this award.

Eleven Facts About Yours Truly

  1. As it turns out, 11 is my favorite number.
  2. 11 PM is now very much past my bed time. (There’d better be a damned good reason you keep me up late.)
  3. At 11 years old, I was reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin with my Language Arts teacher, Ms. Sue Timmis. Now, at 32 years old, I’m reading The Westing Game with my 6th grade Literature class.
  4. In 2011, I came to teach at my old middle/elementary school. Some of my old teachers are still here. The fact that my two children roam the same halls my brothers, friends and I once did makes me feel incredibly old.
  5. Growing up, one of my favorite basketball players was Isiah Thomas, who played for the Detroit Pistons, and wore #11.
  6. As such, my high school varsity basketball jersey number was, you guessed it, #11.
  7. Once upon a time, I could drink 11 beers and be fine. I’m not entirely sure that is still true. Weekend experiment!
  8. An epic 11-on-11 Survivor Flip-Cup match would be the best 11-on-11 game in existence, but until that game happens, Football is the best. (Weekend experiment?)
  9. I know what my 11th favorite movie of all-time is. (“The Fifth Element” [1997])
  10. The 11th song of the playlist I am currently listening to is: “That’s Not Her Style” by Billy Joel, from his album “Stormfront”.
  11. 9 of my last 11 posts (not counting re-blogs) have been about Writing.

My Awarder’s Eleven Questions

My Awarder has come up with a devious array of queries that I will now endeavor to answer.

1. What is your favorite pizza topping? 

-If I had to choose one, it’d have to be the classic pepperoni. Throw some sausage and maybe some fresh basil on there too, and now we’re talking.

2. Do you have a nickname?  If so, what and why?

-I’ve had a number of nicknames throughout my life, but the only one that’s stuck with any sort of permanence is ‘Bebé’. I’m the first born of my generation so-to-speak, so grandparents and all my aunts and uncles referred to me a ‘Bebé’, which means “baby” in Spanish. To this day, most of my family, including some of my little cousins, call me ‘Bebé’. Once I started talk, though, I had my revenge. As the first born, I doled out a number of nicknames to those selfsame grandparents, aunts and uncles that have stuck to them.

3. Who is your hero?

-My answer is absolutely cliché, my parents and grandparents. As far as my grandparents go, they immigrated from Cuba in the 1960s and worked to establish a better life here in Miami. My parents were blessed with that same work-ethic and helped developed a loving, faithful and supportive family environment–one that pushed me to follow my dream of being a writer.

4. What was the last song you listened to?

-This question is unfair, and not indicative of my own musical predilections. The last song I listened to was one chosen by my five year-old daughter on our ride home. It’s was “I’ve Got a Dream” by Brad Garrett, Jeffery Tambor, Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and company from the “Tangled” soundtrack.

5. What is your biggest fear?

-Once upon a time, my biggest fear was death. Now, my biggest fear is the death of my wife and/or my children.

6. If you had a choice between riding an elephant or a camel, which would you choose? Why?

-I would ride an elephant, and henceforth refer to myself as a mahout. The benefits of such a title are evident.

7. Is there an animal that you identify with?  Why?

-I would love to claim an identification with the dolphin–you know, sleek, smart, and speedy. Alas, I’m more akin to a Basset Hound, lolling, loyal, and lovable!

8. What is your favorite season?  Why?

-My favorite season would be Winter, if we experienced it here in Miami, but we really only get Summer and More-Humid-Summer. So, my favorite season is Summer–not the least of which among my reasons is that I’m a teacher. I don’t think the Starks included Miami in their Winter Is Coming declaration.

9. Do you wish I was better at asking questions?

-Not at all. I mean, you might not be Barbara Walters or the Corpse of Larry King, but I’d certainly slot you ahead of Montell Williams and, gasp, Matt Lauer. (If you were Oprah, and I were Tom Cruise’s alien host, I’d jump on your couch.)

10. In a fight between King Kong, Dracula, and Kenny from South Park, who would win?

– Considering Kenny is immortal, and no matter how many times Dracula bit him or King Kong smacked a plane at him he’d be back for the next episode, I’d go with him. Battle of attrition.

11. Do you believe that everyone has the ability to be an artist?

-I believe everyone has the ability to create, but whether or not that becomes art I guess is up to them. What’s that saying. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? People make things all the time, and there’s a level of artistry in any number of professions. The short answer would have been, Yes.

My Questions

  1. Who are you and why are you here?
  2. What literary character would you like to be?
  3. If you could scourge the Earth of one man-made creation, what would it be? Why?
  4. Where do your literary tastes lie?
  5. Where do your musical tastes lie?
  6. What as-of-yet unmade novel/film adaptation would you make?
  7. If you could have dinner with one historical figure, who would it be? Where would you eat?
  8. Speaking of eating, what is your favorite blogging snack?
  9. If you could have a new day-job (assuming you currently have one), what would it be? Why? (You can’t choose writer!)
  10. Which of your non-writing related hobbies helps your writing the most?
  11. What is your blogging process?

My Nominees

I hereby nominate the following awesome bloggers (in no particular order):

  1. Mark Elman
  2. Laura B Williams
  3. Caitlin Stern Writes
  4. Corey M.P.
  5. 21st Century Renaissance Girl
  6. Marie Lamba
  7. Sidekick Reviews
  8. Robakers
  9. Lauren Marie Robb
  10. Myth Rider
  11. The Ranting Papizilla (He’s got 201 followers, but I’ll keep him on this list ‘cuz he’s way awesome.)

The Pretty Rock Project

The Pretty Rock Project

Yamil Piedra is a talented comedian and long-time acquaintance. We went to high school and college together.  The following is my latest article for HeadlineMiami.com. Enjoy!

Tomorrow, The Pretty Rock Project makes its exclusive Earth premier! Yamil Piedra has been making viewers crack up nation-wide for the better part of 16 years, and now the 6-foot-4 Miami-based comedian has developed his own interactive, ingenious and insane one-man show to delight his audience. The Pretty Rock Project opens on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM at Just the Funny Theater! (3119 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145; Phone: 305.693.8669) Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased on-line at justthefunny.com/tix. For more info on Yamil visit: thisisthewebsiteofyamilpiedra.com, follow him on Twitter @ypiedra, friend him at: facebook.com/ypiedra, and watch him on youtube.com/ypiedra.

“For me this show is about evolving,” Piedra said in a press release. “People now want to be more involved, they want to be part of the action. That’s why people use social media, because it gives them the opportunity to have their voice heard and interact with others in ways we never have.” With this new show, Yamil will shatter the fourth wall and allow the audience to be right up there with him. Throughout various segments of the show, Yamil will select audience members to come up on stage and be part of the action. Also, follow Yamil on Twitter @ypiedra, as he’ll present specific hashtags to allow the audience a new level of interaction throughout the show.

“I’m beyond excited about this project,” Piedra said. “It’s the type of show I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and there’s no better place to debut it than in my hometown of Miami!”

You might have caught Yamil showcasing his acting talents on Miami’s very own “Burn Notice”, or shows like “Boston Legal” and “Las Vegas”. You also may have seen Yamil perform on stand-up comedy showcases including Comedy Central’s “Open Mic Fight”, NBC’s “Stand Up for Diversity”, and “Just for Laughs”. He was one of the stars and writers of the Spanish language sketch comedy show on MegaTV, “El Vacilon“, and was one half of the comedy duo A Pair of Nuts, which were featured on many shows, including Tosh.0.

With the big premier approaching, Yamil took a moment to chat with me about his one-man show and other aspects of his comedic career.

HLM: Your first one-man show, The Pretty Rock Project, is set to open this Saturday. What can you tell us about it?

YP: I’ve wanted to do a one man show for a while now. In 2004, when I moved to LA I started jotting down ideas, but I got preoccupied with other things and never got around to doing it. Then when I moved back to Miami, I re-started A Pair of Nuts in 2007 and things really took off for us, so again something else took precedence over doing a solo show. So now here we are in 2013, the Nuts are no longer a pair and I have no distractions, so I’m finally making it happen. I’m excited! Especially doing an interactive show where the audience gets to be up there with me.

HLM: Well, The Pretty Rock Project is marketed as: Interactive. Ingenious. Insane! How will the multimedia elements like video and social media mesh with your stand-up?

YP: It’s not all stand up, there’s also sketch comedy. It’s a hybrid comedy show that mixes various elements. Video is an element I started using with comedy back in 1997 when I started the Impromedy comedy troupe at FIU and kept doing it when I started A Pair of Nuts in 2003. The videos are used to give me time to change into a costume for the next sketch or segment and it keeps the audience entertained. As for social media, I’ll be using Twitter and giving out hashtags in a couple of segments. So if you’re coming to the show, be sure to follow me @ypiedra and get ready to tweet me!

HLM: You’re well-known not only as an actor, but as part of the former sketch comedy duo, A Pair of Nuts. What challenges did your one-man live show present that you didn’t find working with a partner?

YP: The biggest challenge was more the technical aspects than anything else—doing all new videos because I film and edit all my own stuff. The show is very media heavy, so my ass is in pain from being in an Ikea office chair and editing so many videos. And just in general, creating the flow of the show and how everything is going to run. I literally control every single cue during the show, from video to sound. The only thing I don’t control is the lights and whether the audience will laugh. Which they probably will because I look like someone who will murder them if they don’t.

HLM: Nice. Sounds like you’re in complete control of the creation and production process. That must create an incredible sense of fatherly pride. Which of the characters or sketches you created for The Pretty Rock Project stands as your favorite?

YP: It’s hard to say since the show hasn’t happened yet, but I really like “Lance Thunderstorm.” He’s an illusionist a la Criss Angel and David Blaine, except his tricks never go quite as planned. Lil Miss Tiny Tot is also fun to play; she’s a child beauty pageant contestant. And she was around way before Honey Boo Boo. I did that character a few times with A Pair of Nuts. They’ll be some familiar characters and new ones, too.

HLM: What are the most difficult aspects to your style of comedy?

YP: It’s very non-traditional and some people just don’t “get it.” Which I’m totally cool with cause I never wanted to be just a guy with a mic, I wanted more. I watch Steve Martin do his old routines and I see a lot of similarities. When I read his book, “Born Standing Up,” I saw so much in him that I see in me. He was faced with many challenges because of how different he was and I can relate.

HLM: What is the best part to your style of comedy?

YP: The most difficult aspect just so happens to also be the best part. The fact that it’s different. You stick out from the bunch. You’re memorable.

HLM: You’re billing some audience interaction for the show. Do you have a memorable moment of audience interaction in your career?

YP: I’ve never had much audience interaction throughout my career, hence the reason I’m doing this show. But if I had to think of 1 moment, it would have be at Ft. Rucker in Alabama. It was the last military base I did with A Pair of Nuts in our 2011 tour and at the beginning of the show we would always come out talk to the audience for a bit. The first thing we notice is this lady in the front row, taking up like 2 or 3 seats and just straight up crocheting a blanket. I even went backstage to grab my iPhone and record her cause we couldn’t believe it. Who crochets during a comedy show?! It was awesome!

HLM: That creates quite the visual. Perhaps I’ll try it at your next show. What’s next for you?

YP: Rest! I’ve been working on this show non-stop, so Yamil needs some relaxation. Maybe a massage and a slurpee? In all seriousness though, I’m hoping this show takes off and leads to other things. I’d love to tour with it, especially if I can take it to the troops. Those men and women are the most appreciative audience I’ve ever performed for and I think they’d love this type of show. Where ever this new chapter in my life takes me, I’m ready, so BRING IT!

Don’t miss The Pretty Rock Project, and be sure to catch Yamil this summer on the USA network’s new show, “Graceland”. The Pretty Rock Project opens on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM at Just the Funny Theater! (3119 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145; Phone: 305.693.8669) Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on-line at justthefunny.com/tix. For more info on Yamil visit: thisisthewebsiteofyamilpiedra.com, follow him on Twitter @ypiedra, friend him at: facebook.com/ypiedra,  and watch him on youtube.com/ypiedra.