Sunday, June 19, 2011

Retreat/movie reviews/birthday/miscellaneous

I just got back from the Menlo College Retreat which ended yesterday(Saturday). The weather was about the best we have ever had. There was one day in the low eighties with the rest clear sunny and in the seventies. The cafeteria food was better than last year. There was a real unity and harmony among the instructors which is always important. I took my bike and was able to get in a good ride everyday, which is vital to keeping my blood sugar under control. I was able to play each day. I got the requests to play at the follies but side stepped it as usual with I'll do that the day Nadeau sensei sings or dances. As usual there was a lot of important work done after dark. This retreat is like Gotham City. The real important work gets done after the sun goes down. It was wonderful to see Mary Heiny sensei and to share memories of Japan and our long friendship. And I got to hang out with Dianna and Vladi. I must admit to watching classes from underneath the bleachers in the "wolf cave" or "wolf den". I actually got to walk him by myself, which I think is a first. So one retreat down and the Santa Cruz Retreat in 2 weeks.

I saw X-Men before the retreat. I was very surprised and found that it was my favorite of all the X-Men films. Of course it was a prequel of sorts set in the sixties around the Cuban missile crisis. And the comic came out right around then. As I remember there was a great doubt as to whether the comic was a success or not. Some people thought that since Spider-man was a teenager and the Fantastic Four was a successful superhero team this was just an attempt to cash in my creating a comic around a superhero team of teenagers. I remember that while I read it it was not on my A list:Spider-man, Thor, Dr. Strange, later the Silver Surfer.......But the movie was well done. Especially Eric Fassbender's Magneto. I thought given the sixties flavor he had an Sean Conneryesque presence in some of the scenes that seemed to be a bit of a homage to the early Bond films.

And Thursday night after our evening sessions Paul and I went to an early showing of
Green Lantern. GL was one of my favorites pre-Marvel. For many years I had a copy of Green Lantern number one from the Silver Age. I realized I was just storing it and gave it willingly to a friend who gives it a good home. I saw it in Digitalized X which is an advanced form of 3D. I saw it again last night to come down from post Retreat energy high. My sense is that in 3D it comes across as too cartoony. I liked it much better in regular. But definitely 2 thumbs up. I would give give X-Men 1 and a half thumbs. And Thor one and three quarters. So I liked it obviously. But then I was set to like it and it would have had to be very disappointing for me to not. The box office report was that it was a little on the disappointing side(52 million) but I saw it last night at a late showing and the theatre was packed. Reviews from critics have been very unfavorable, but a film like this is almost expected to draw bad reviews. Try reviewing a Fairy Tale. Or a myth. I'm sure critics would find fault with them. A very flawed human is chosen by a dying alien to wield a power ring, which endows the wearer with incredible powers limited only by the wielder's imagination and will power. So even with the tights and flying the character is a bit different from the run of the mill superhero. And the wearer must come to grips with his own worthiness since the ring itself chose him. Ryan Reynolds was a perfect Hal Jordan. I initially thought Blake Lively was a bit weak as Carol Ferris, but upon seeing it a second time I take that back.

The comics sell and turn into blockbuster films. They represent today's mythology. Often times there are good themes that are incomplete. In X-Men the real question is are we going to reach the next stage in our collective evolution ? Will humanity transform into its next level before the planet is unable to sustain us or anything else? And this has nothing to do with growing wings, reading minds, shapeshifting, or controlling magnetic fields. As the mutants are feared as something different and new so we remain dulled and trapped in a very mundane universe largely of our own creation. We fear ultimately what is inside us. In the X-men this is projected out onto the mutants.

In Green Lantern the battle is will power vs fear....An immortal godlike group of beings has decreed that will power is the ultimate sustaining force in the universe and has formed an intergalactic corp of beings wielding rings that shoot out beams of solid light that can form anything the imagination can conceive as long as the will is there to sustain it. Fear is seen as the enemy and as eroding will power.....

Both mythologies ignore the central lesson of aikido , which is love. Fear is not the enemy of will power , it is the enemy of love. And the only way we will transform to our next level is to move through our collective fear and love ourselves totally enough to transform. In many stories Superman is duplicated into a being who has his power but not his ethics and morals. The villains behind this creation reason that a being of pure power will defeat Superman and that his humanity makes him weak. But time and again he wins because his love for life and humanity give him the strength to defeat a copy of himself who in essence has nothing to fight for.

Being a warrior (or a superhero) has nothing to do with power. Power is something that comes as the hero/heroine individuate. Even if they start out with abilities, those abilities only become power when the truth of their purpose or lineage lines up to a corresponding element of truth in the character. This is very well done in the Lantern film, as Hal Jordan comes to realize his power comes from his humanity, not from some edict from the Guaridans that he must be without fear. If you have not seen the movie, it is a must see.....

Just before the Retreat I celebrated my birthday. Thank you to all those in the dojo for the lovely gifts and thoughts.

Speaking of my playing on Wednesday night (June 22nd 7:30pm) we will a repeat of the showing of "Sounds for Peace" featuring jazz great Eddie Gale, Dennis Kyne, and myself. Videos will be on sale at the dojo, a portion of which will go to the dojo as a fundraiser. If nothing else please come and meet Eddie, a man filled with so much music.


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