Monday, August 29, 2011

911 update and more

The 911 concert and aikido demo in Ben Lomond has been postponed. I will update the event when a new date is reached. So keep watching these pages for further info.

Just talking to people about the summer movies has brought forth more themes. It just hit me that Thor and Green Lantern offer the same theme in different directions.
In Thor a god is found lacking in humility and is stripped of much of his power and cast down to the earthly dimension as punishment for rash and destructive behavior and to learn how to deal with limitation. In Green Lantern a normal flawed human being has to deal with being given a power ring which elevates him to a god-like level: he can turn his thoughts into reality.

I think both directions are crucial and interesting. If one were to have great power one might never learn the importance of patience, compassion, and the ordinary side of things. Often times what makes a hero or heroine interesting is their life in their secret identity. In the comics Thor is cast down to earth, given a human persona with a physical defect, a lame leg. Thus he needs a cane. Eventually he finds a cane in a cave and finds when he taps it on the ground he is transformed into the god of thunder. And the cane becomes his enchanted hammer. It was probably my favorite Marvel comic. Thor had to deal with being in love with his nurse Jane(in the movie an astrophysicist) and the fact his father Odin did not approve of his son's choice.

Green Lantern explores what would happen if a limited human is given almost limitless power. I began to read this comic in the late '50's so it pre-dates my Marvel period. The film does a great job of exploring how one's humanity can be looked upon as a definite limitation but in the end might be one's biggest asset. Like Thor having to stand up to his father Hal Jordan must question the Guardians of Oa who are immortal and who created the Green Lantern Corps.

Whether it is an all-father or a group of immortal beings it is sometimes important to realize that the larger more universal perspective is not necessarily everything. That this must be balanced by one's more human side. So Thor must balance his godhood with his human feelings for Jane. While Green Lantern Hal Jordan must confront the Guardians about certain choices they have made and how they impact the universe at large.

I am surprised the Green Lantern movie was not more successful. It might have been too cartoon-like in its outer space sequences. Or maybe people decided to save their money for Harry Potter. I thought it was an excellent film and the best movie of the summer by far. If you missed it don't miss it on dvd. And for me Thor was right behind Green Lantern. I liked it better than the Iron Man movies. And I am looking forward to seeing the character in The Avengers movie next year.

AS you can tell both characters go through a lot and have to deal with a lot. So I thought you'd enjoy this youtube video of a Chet Baker standard "Everything Happens to Me". It's a later vocal. His vocal as well as playing style changed as he matured. I like this one because after the vocal and a beautiful piano section he plays unmuted. So this is my favorite version of this song.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More on 911 event

The 911 event is coming closer in time. Initially I thought we were going to have a 60 minute segment to film. I found that it is closer to 30 minutes, which is much more manageable. We do need to start to organize that and we will soon. But I would like to share more thoughts on this event.

This is both a great honor and a great responsibility. It is a great honor because it is just for things like this that Ueshiba Osensei created the art of aikido. To help unite the world into one family. Peace must be based not on political leverage or military force but on the simple sense that we recognize the essential kinship to the planet that unqualifiably binds us together through a sense of oneness. Ie family. So to represent this art in such an event is an honor beyond belief. And for the same reason it is a great responsibility.

I included the picture of Eddie Gale and Anno sensei for the reason that both men in their own way represent this vision beautifully through their being. Anno sensei through his aikido and Eddie through his music. Just as being with Anno sensei one senses the depth of aikido in his being, one on meeting Eddie Gale can feel how music permeates his being. And it is beautiful loving music.

One way you can support the event is by purchasing a ticket and attending. It is a $50 commitment but this will go towards a scholarship fund at San Jose State University. Eddie Gale is commited to supporting inner city youth in their development through music and just helping in this way may nurture someone who can change the planet. One never knows what wheels can be set in motion by one's choices.
If you do not feel you can attend the event one can make a donation to help create a scholarship for someone who could otherwise not attend to go. If you contact me at the donation can even be tax deductible.

The event will be held at the Sequoia Center in Ben Lomond. Just being there will change your mood. It is a power spot, ie a location which at the same time energizes and calms. Set beautifully amidst the redwoods just getting out there is something else. Both Frank Silvey and I made a trip out there and it is one we will not forget.
There will be an hour concert by Eddie Gale and his Inner Peace Orchestra in addition to our demo and a showing of sensei Lou Bermingham's art work. You might have caught his recent show at the Triton Museum.

More on this event as we proceed forward. I am including a youtube video describing the event:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

movie review:captain america

I saw Captain America last week. I must say I enjoyed it quite a lot. I put it up there with the recent X-men, a shade below Thor and Green Lantern. It has been quite a summer for costumed super-heroes. The majority of it is set in World War II. I think it has been set as the last good war, where we were seen as clearly in the right and evil, in the form of Hitler and Nazi Germany was very clearly defined. The first season of Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman series was set in WWII as well and was very enjoyable. I think there is a reassuring sense when evil can be so directly pointed out and and we can feel good about who we are in relation to it.

Chris Evans, who played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films is cast here as Steve Rogers. I thought he was the best cast in the FF films and he does not disappoint here. Tony's father Howard appears here as a part of the Marvel Universe timeline. It is almost as if Thor and now Captain America is the ready us for next summer and The Avengers film.

I remember reading the '60's revival version of CA as a teenager. I believe both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did the original and they wrote a lot of his first revival stuff as a part of the Avengers comic. He replaced the Hulk, who went on to be an enigmatic figure who was seen to be a loner and to somewhat be a villain. Captain America was not one of my favorites. I was disappointed that he got his powers through a super soldier serum. He was originally portrayed more like the Batman, someone who has no powers but is trained past the peak of human performance to be a super hero anyway. I was disappointed when I found out he was an enhanced therefore somewhat super powered hero who was given basically a super steroid. In the film they play the chemical part down and emphasize the vita-ray aspect of his transformation. And his shield became something he used as a weapon in creative ways. This is also brought into the film.

So this has the charm of an old World War II movie mixed with the action of one of the old serials and brought into modern day special effects and CGA. So it is quite a lot of things. If you are thinking about missing it, don't. It is worth a look and then more. Marvel seems to have a great feel for bringing their characters onto the screen. I am sure Stan Lee never felt he would be doing cameos in blockbuster films in the 21st century when he was creating this stuff in the '40's and '60's. And if possible go to the comic book stores and try to get some of the original Jack Kirby work on this character. It is awesome.

A great great film set in World War II is Casablanca. And of course with that comes that song: As Time Goes By. I came upon this version of it by Chet Baker quite by accident. It is so associated with Dooley Wilson that I listened to it with a lot of apprehension.... But Chet does a great job with it. And the trumpet work at the end is understated, lyrical, and haunting. All Chet Baker trademarks.