Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hyped Code?

My Aunt bought me a paperback edition of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code a couple weeks ago for me to read it before watching the movie. I had initially avoided it because it was one of those books that everyone was reading, but after finishing it a couple days ago I realized it wasn’t bad. I’ll have to agree with Jack, though, that Brown’s Angels and Demons novel, set before the events of The Da Vinci Code, was much more intriguing. However, the latter was much more controversial in its subject matter and ended up receiving all the press, mostly due to the fact that everyone finds conspiracies intriguing. The movie wasn’t as bad as all those critics out there deemed it to be, though it was a bit long. It is however, still a popcorn movie, nonetheless.
“You asked what would be worth killing for. Witness the biggest cover-up in human history.”
Song of the Moment: “Chevaliers de Sangreal” composed by Hans Zimmer

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!

This afternoon, I left my apartment to go get cash for rent. (My apartment building is a cash-only kind of place, if that gives you any idea about the condition of it…) As I was leaving, there were two chipper fellows in ties carrying backpacks coming into our parking lot. These fellows were clearly Mormons—not only were they wearing the uniform, but there is a Mormon church right next door to my apartment.

Some part of me wanted to go find a giant bell to ring and emphatically shout, “The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!” Instead, I just smiled at them as I departed.

Upon my return, I went to the building manager’s apartment, and knocked on his door. He didn’t answer. But his car was here. I knocked again. Nothing. I went back to my place and fucked around on the computer for a little bit. Regardless of the ghetto-ness of where I live, the neighborhood is very quiet. Today was silent, with the exception of the rhythmic knock knock knock knock knock, pause, knock knock knock knock knock, pause. The knocks always came in fives.

I listened as the knocks moved up and down the walkway. Inside, I debated as to how I was going to react when they knocked on my door. Should I open the door and say, “Thanks, but no thanks?” Should I hide in the bedroom and pretend I’m not home?

Miraculously, I did not have to make a decision because they never knocked on my door. They knocked on the neighbors’ doors on either side of me, but not mine. I watched from my window on the third floor as the two left, no less chipper, and headed back towards their church. As soon as their feet left our parking lot, it was as if the apartment complex came back to life. The apartment manager opened his door and came out to look around. About thirteen other people did the same. My neighbors two-doors down came out with folding chairs, cigarettes and beer. The guy from apartment thirteen came out and began working on his yellow pickup truck. Peace was ours, once again.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ninja Vanish!

Ninja 002[Dave/Scott]
Recommended Reading: Greimel, Hans. “Last Ninja: ‘Be able to kill your students.’” The Mercury News. 26 Apr. 2006.
"Young kids might be more interested in other sports that are flashy or fashionable," concedes Makinori Matsuo, an associate professor of martial arts at Tokyo's International Budo University.

"They tend to be turned off by the image of martial arts as sweaty and smelly," he said.

Ninja is a compound word from the Japanese characters for "stealth" or "endurance" and "person," a reference to their traditional role as spies, mercenaries and assassins working for medieval warlords.

Traditional weaponry such as swords and throwing stars feature prominently is Hatsumi's lessons, as do handclaws for climbing walls, blow darts and chili pepper dust to throw in an opponent's eyes.

But true ninjutsu, Hatsumi says, is self-discipline and balance in the boardroom and the battlefield. It's about mastering one's weaknesses, including laziness and fear, and exploiting a rival's needs, such as sex and pride.
I have to agree with Hatsumi, popular culture’s got the wrong idea when it comes to ninjas and ninjutsu. While living in Hawaii my brother and I picked up a book on ninjutsu technique. We were excited, thinking that it would have crazy shit in there that would make us badasses that could jump 30 feet in the air and chop up dozens of chumps with a katana. After flipping through the book, I noticed a lot of those preconceptions were wrong. Swords like the katana were rarely used because one-on-one, face-to-face combat with a samurai in swordplay was often a sure way to die. The book seemed to emphasize opportunistic techniques instead, seeking to deceive and unbalance opponents for easy kills or escapes. I guess stealth and opportunism aren’t sexy enough to be cool in the eyes of the popular cultures of the west, at least in their views of martial arts.

Instead people who’ve never really had the chance to practice Asian martial arts watch “dance” films like Hero, or anything else by Jet Li. Don’t get me wrong, the “dance” scenes are beautifully choreographed, but they’re not fights. Go look at footage of martial arts matches in say the Olympics (Tae Kwon Do and Judo) or other big tournaments around the world and you’ll see something more dirty and mean than flashy.
“This is not a dance.”
Movie of the Moment: Batman Begins directed by Christopher Nolan

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