An Interview with the one and only Kenny Martin
I love doing interviews here – I’ve done over 50 of them in the past year alone. Directors, Short Film creators, Game Designers, Scientists, zombie-virologists (I kid you not), etc etc. If you’d like to peruse them all at your leisure, you can do so here. But about a month ago I put the word out that I was interested in interviewing some of the readers here… that everyone is interesting, and I would LOVE to learn more about you guys in more detail.
The very first person to give me a shout out was Kenny Martin. And over the past month Kenny have been talking non-stop. Constantly. We’ve accrued thousands and thousands of words via email. Just our first two emails alone amassed over 2k words. So we’ve had a ton of fun talking about whatever interested us. So much so that I’ve decided I’m going to break up the interview into two parts. One being mainly about Kenny and his answers to some of my idiotic questions – and the follow up will be more of an existential conversation, because that’s where we went with it all. It was a ton of fun Kenny! Thanks for indulging me!
So while Kenny isn’t an artist, or a writer, or a director – he’s no less or more interesting. I learned a ton about Mr. Martin, and learned a lot in the process. Tons and tons of stuff of varying degrees on the fascination scale. If you happen to live near by, I highly suggest you take him out for a beer and pick his brain. I had a ton of fun anyway! hahah. Alright, enough random pontificating, let’s jump into the conversation…
THinc – “Where are you from? Locations, cities, countries? Significant moves? Changes?”
Kenny – “I am from a small town in California, in the US. I have changed residences once, but I didn’t change cities when I moved.”
THinc – “Sweetness, I grew up in Cali too. But not a small town by any measure. I grew up in Orange County… which is bigger than most states. Anyway, I digress. Schooling? Locations? Degrees?”
Kenny – “I have a BS in journalism from San José State University. When I was starting in community college, I only knew that I wanted to bowl professionally for a living, and so I had no idea what to declare for my major. I was, however, also into video games, and I read several video game magazines all the time. This caused me to list journalism as my major, though it was more of an afterthought than a serious pursuit. I took one journalism class my first semester, which was the introductory, overview course, and I really loved the professor. The material was interesting, too, though the main reason I stayed was because I had made a friend in the professor. Over the next few semesters, my bond with my journalism professor deepened, and I graduated with an AA in journalism.
“I then chose to continue with journalism at San José State (SJSU), as well as join the bowling team there. My experience at SJSU was not that great of one, unfortunately. None of the classes captured my interest as the ones at my prior school had, and I didn’t bond with any of the professors in the same way my first journalism professor and I did (and still share to this day!) Personally, I didn’t open up and I stayed in my sheltered shell. I’m not a partier, and I don’t do crazy things. Because of this, I developed some mediocre friendships, but I didn’t broaden my horizons either. My bowling game also deteriorated greatly during my years at SJSU. The bowling team didn’t have any clear leadership or discipline, and I was surrounded by a lot of people with personalities and bowling styles that were different from mine, and I think I subconsciously incorporated some elements of their game into mine, to my detriment. I’m still, to this day, fighting to reverse the damage to my game done during those years.
“I did one year of Masters study at San Francisco State in broadcast, but I wasn’t having fun with it, and decided it wasn’t for me. I had been working part-time at a library for several years, though, and I loved working there. A large part of it may be my co-workers, who are probably the best friendships I have ever made and the best people I have ever met. In order to move past my current position at the library, I need a masters of library science, and so I am headed back to SJSU, albeit exclusively online, for their library grad program. I start at the end of the month.”
THinc – “What would your friends say about you, what do you think they enjoy about you?”
Kenny – “I decided to ask my library friends in a group message this question, and only one responded thus far, and this is her response:
“Kenny: you are the most thoughtful person I know. You always put a lot of effort and time into your gifts, surprises and messages. I really enjoy that you genuinely care and you’re a real stand-up guy 🙂
“But you are probably looking for an honest assessment of how I think my friends view me. So, here’s my thoughts: I put the needs of others before myself, I want to make other people happy, and I am very funny. I love to share my interests with people that mean a lot to me, and sometimes it can be obsessive. I am easy- going, but not a great decision-maker.
THinc – “Tell your friend that we agree with her – you definitely seem to be a very stand up guy. Onwards! What about books that you love? Favorite book of all time? Movies? Favorite movie of all time? Hobbies? (Besides bowling)”
Kenny – “My favorite books of all time, in no particular order:
- Narziss and Goldmund (by Hermann Hesse)
- The Good Earth (by Pearl S. Buck)
- Les Miserables (by Victor Hugo)
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (by Robert Pirsig)
- Sherlock Holmes (by Arthur Conan Doyle)
- Harry Potter series by (J.K. Rowling)
- Call of the Wild (by Jack London)
- Looking for Alaska (by John Green)
- The Wind in the Willows (by Kenneth Grahame)
- Don Quixote (by Miguel de Cervantes)
My favorite movies are, in no particular order:
- The Prestige
- Dumb and Dumber
- American Beauty
- The Thing (1982 version) (I’m curious as to your theory on this movie, if you’ve seen it!)
- Kill Bill
- The Blair Witch Project
- The Mist
- Forest Gump
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- The Lady Eve (I don’t like this movie as much as the others, but I do enjoy it, and I feel it doesn’t get enough mentioning)
My favorite TV shows are, in no particular order:
- Dexter (the first four seasons only)
- Breaking Bad
- Case Closed
- Supernatural (seasons 1-5)
My main hobby, recently, has been just hanging out with my friends/co-workers from the library. They are just such a joy and fun to be around that I couldn’t think of a better way to find happiness. I fear the day that we lose touch with each other. At the moment, we hang out every Friday night, without fail, and sometimes even more. As a matter of fact, several of our group are in the midst of planning a cross-country road trip over the summer! I do enjoy walking in nature and going camping, as well.”
THinc – “Do you have any sort of a spiritual background? (I love talking to people of various religions, I’m just curious that way.)”
Kenny – “I do not. Growing up, my parents didn’t practice any religion and my friends were primarily atheists. I would say I lean towards atheism, but I don’t feel the need to argue with anyone. Besides, I think religion has the potential to provide positive structure to people’s lives, and give them friendships and relationships, and encourage them to be positive members of a community. It’s kind of like sports, in that participating and striving to get better in a sport can build good personal characteristics, but there is also another side of sports (fame, money, being away from family) that can lead to bad habits and ill character. So, I’m not against religion at all, but I just feel I don’t need it. Of course, it can also be used negatively…but it’s such a complex issue, and one I haven’t given much thought to, and so my opinions on it don’t hold much weight, I’m afraid.”
THinc – “Do you have a perspective on the meaning of life? In general. Why are you here? Why am I here… you get the idea.”
Kenny – “Always a popular topic of discussion, lol! I have thought about this a lot, and I still do, but I think we struggle with this question because life’s meaning isn’t based in logic. I think the meaning of life is just to exist, but logic tells us that nothing happens for a reason. On a scientific level, there are reasons why I exist, you exist, and everything leading up to our existence happened. But there is no goal beyond just existing. It is left up to each individual to do with their consciousness whatever they find good. Society does tend to muddy the waters slightly, but I still hold to my opinion stated above, at least until man creates artificial, self-sufficient human replicas. Then, I don’t know, haha.”
THinc – “Favorite experience you’ve ever had? Travel? Win?”
Kenny – “You know, I wrote an 8-page, single spaced, account of my greatest summer ever, a part of which was my trip to Detroit, Michigan for a national bowling tournament. I will try and find that document, but for the sake of space, I will share another bowling story that sticks out in my mind.
It was the final day of my Saturday morning bowling league. Whoever finished first in the league would win a spot in the national tournament to be held in Detroit. For my league, each week we bowled four games, and I just needed to win one game out of four to win the league. During most of the season, going to Detroit didn’t matter to me, and I just bowled and did my best because that is what I enjoyed doing most. However, in the weeks leading up to the finale, I began to care more and more about going to Detroit, and by the time I got to the bowling alley on the final day, I was really nervous.
My grandpa, who was a good bowler in his own right, came down to cheer me on. My opponent and I both started with the first four strikes. We both split and opened in the fifth frame, and followed that up with a strike. This is where our scores took a different turn, however. My opponent spared in the next frame, whereas I proceeded to throw the exact same split I had left just two frames before! We both struck in the eighth and ninth frames. I bowled my first shot in the tenth frame first (players have the potential to bowl three shots in the 10th frame), and I got a strike. Normally, my opponent would have then rolled his first shot in the 10th frame while I was waiting for my bowling ball to return. However, I looked at my opponent and he was just standing by the ball return, holding his ball, with his head down.
My ball came back, I picked it up, I wiped the oil off of it with my towel, and glanced at my opponent once more, as to say that I still deferred to him if he wished to go. He remained stone still, so I got up on the approach to deliver my second shot.
At this moment, I was actually pretty loose, even though getting the second strike would mean my opponent would have to get his first strike in order to win the game. In my mind, I had already lost the game. I felt defeated once I left the second split, because my opponent through a very powerful ball and he was locked in. I was already focused on doing what I needed to do to win the next game. So I threw my shot, with all the freeness of a soldier who has already come to terms with his death in battle, and got a perfect strike. This time, when I came back to the waiting area, my opponent moved onto the approach, set himself, and rolled his shot…
Straight into the gutter! I was shocked! I turned around to look at my grandpa, and he is the only calm person in the spectating audience. Everyone else either has their hands over their heads or are whispering amongst each other their disbelief. My grandpa and I lock eyes for maybe three seconds, and he doesn’t betray this through any actions, but his stare tells me he isn’t surprised because I was bowling a better game.
My opponent spares, and strikes, but it still wasn’t enough to beat me, and I proceed to win all four games that morning, shooting scores of 234, 212, 247 and 227.
Kenny – “I do not. My family goes camping with family friends several times every year, and the father of the other family always has new, hilarious stories to tell around the campfire. This most recent time going, when we got settled around the campfire, I asked him if he would tell us any new stories and he told me he was waiting for the time when I would tell funny stories of my own. I told him I don’t have any stories worth telling, and he tasked me with coming back with at least one good story next time we go camping. He left me with this advice: “If you want stupid stories, you have to do some stupid shit.” I may just be destined not to ever have funny stories to tell!”
THinc – “I totally agree with your family friend – I’ve done a ton of crazy stuff in my life, and always running through the back of mind is, ‘this is going to make a fantastic story… if only I survive it that is.’ But maybe that guy and myself are strange that way.”
That was round one. And after receiving that first set of responses I realized again, just how unique we all are. Just how different. Kenny’s list of books, for example, made me do a double take. Who puts down Don Quixote as one of their favorite books? I mean, I loved it. Dulcinea del Toboso is one of my favorite characters in all of literature – the ugly muse, seen by Quixote as the most beautiful woman in the world, and he dedicates all his exploits to her? What is there not to love in that? That is epic stuff right there. But It’s not even in my top 500 books I wouldn’t think. But Kenny has it in his what, top ten?! So interesting. I could spend an hour just talking about that with him just to understand that choice better. Everyone is fascinating! Alright, enough of me prattling. Back to Kenny.
THinc – “Sounds like you’ve had a lot of different experiences so far – and your biggest goal desire is to become a professional bowler? How does one even do that? I’m guessing it’s not school… but maybe a trainer? And just working your way up the leagues? I understand how it works for Baseball, Football… the bigs. But I think I’m unclear on exactly you end up on the ESPN Bowling channel.
Kenny – “There are only two requirements one must fulfill in order to become a professional bowler, and they are actually pretty easy. One is to have a 200 average in any league you bowl in, and the other is you pay $300/year to keep your membership card. A 200 average probably sounds like a big accomplishment to many people, but it’s not that hard to do.
“That being said, realistically, turning professional is only worthwhile if you have a 230 average, and have a very good understanding of ball motion while rolling down the lane. If you don’t have the former, you aren’t consistent enough to compete at a high-level on the tougher lane conditions used on the pro tour. If you don’t have the latter, you will struggle once the lanes start to change, no matter how accurate you are.
“There are some fundamental techniques in bowling, but beyond those the main thing is consistency. Bowling is a game of accuracy and also adjustments. If your approach and release remains constant, the only variable is the lane condition, and so you can make appropriate adjustments. If you can’t be consistent, you can never be sure whether the lane caused a certain reaction, or whether it was something you did.
“Another philosophy that serves bowlers well is less is more. It’s important to stay loose and to let physics do all of the work. It’s much easier to repeat a motion when you are loose versus tight.”
THinc – “‘Less is more young padawan. Less is more. Physics? Let Physics do the work. UHM?,’ said in my best Yoda impersonation. That’s good stuff right there. I’m guessing that if you don’t make it in the bigs, you could always take up coaching. That’s goodness. Alright, Now that I have library expert on my hands – I have a selfish question to ask. I wrote astory/treatment/game walkthrough about two people that message back and forth to each other across 50 years via a card catalog. Do you even know what a card catalog is?!? hahaha. In the library you work in are there any, anywhere anymore? My story assumes there aren’t, but maybe in a back room somewhere? heheh. (I don’t think that was a question – want to sign on as a technical consultant?! haha.)”
Kenny – “Is a card catalog where the library staff holds people’s library cards, instead of people getting to keep their card? If so, then no – sort of. People get to take their library cards with them, however their accounts are still kept in a computer program they don’t have access to. If they haven’t returned an item by the date they were supposed to, we can put a block on their account, which prevents them from checking out any further items. We also have more ways to contact patrons if need be.
“The two biggest differences are that people can lose their library cards now, and also people can use the services at multiple libraries. For example, if a person signs up for a library card from any library in the San Mateo County library system, their card will be good at any library in the San Mateo County library system, which is 37 libraries. In the case of losing a library card, a person can replace their card for $1, and there are multiple safeguards in the case of library card theft.”
THinc – “There really is such a thing as a generational gap. A card catalog is a big cabinet with drawers that hold the information about the books that are on the shelves. Author, title, call number, description, etc. I’m guessing my idea is going to flame out even before it starts. No one of the younger generations will understand a word I am writing! hahah.”
Kenny – “We do have a card catalog down in the history room of the library, but it hasn’t been used in at least a decade, probably.”
THinc – “Hahahah. Awful. I’m old. And decrepit. My ideas? Are old and decrepit like me! hahah. Alright, another question for you, In ten years, what does a perfect progression of your life look like? Where are you? What happens next? You have your bowling trophies I assume? What else does a lovely Kenny Martin life amount to? I only ask because I’m beginning to realize it’s a jacked up question. But I’m asking anyway.
Kenny – “Well, in 10 years I will be practically 36 years old. My “perfect life” would consist of bowling a couple of big tournaments every year and winning most of them 🙂 During the off-season, which is quite long for bowling, I would be a full-time historian at the Grand Avenue library in South San Francisco. I currently work there (as a clerk) and I love our history collection. There are three main problems with it at the moment, though. One, it’s not open to the public. Two, it’s a mess. And three, there is no full-time historian position. On the plus side, however, is recently several of the staff (including many prominent people) have shown an interest in the collection and have worked to re-organize it. I would love to do history exhibits with all of our unique photos and items.
“Also, if I were to be married to the love of my life and have one, maybe two, kids, my life would be perfect.”
THinc – “Great answers all Kenny. Thanks for humoring me, and playing along. Finding out more about you has been fantastic.”