Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fundraiser, Niners, and More

The Fundraiser/Training went well. We had a solid turnout for the training and the donations continue to come in even after the event. I think we have at least made a sizeable dent in this year's power bill. I want to thank Linda Holiday sensei for teaching a wonderful class and bringing a warm and vibrant energy to the class. Ditto Harry and Dianna sensei's. A good time was had by all attending. My one regret is that Vladi was unable to attend. And remember that Dianna is teaching iaido on an ongoing basis at the San Jose dojo so if you are interested in regular ongoing instruction that is possible.

Last Friday night I attended the premier of Foster Gamble's "Thrive" in Richmond. I had earlier attended a private showing. But seeing it on the big screen was quite a thrill. If you would like to see the film you may stream it for a modest $5 at the website: I bought a dvd and will sometime soon try to do a dojo showing of the film which is feel is quite important. As evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street movements we are facing a meltdown of our economic systems as well as other major systems. Foster presents both a frighteningly informative at the same time hopeful film dealing with what is going on.

A lot of Foster's film details how everything is programmed not only to survive but to thrive. A great local example is the current 8-1 49ers. Those following the team in recent years have found much frustration and little hope. But with the addition of a new head coach(Jim Harbaugh), a virtually new coaching staff, some very timely free agent acquisitions, basically the same team as last year is thriving. It is somewhat similar so far to the Giants of 2010. That team had dominant pitching and timely offense. The 49ers have dominant defense and special teams and a so far timely offense. Regardless of the remaining games it is obvious to all that last years play hard but mistake prone and disappointing team has transformed into a no-excuses accountable tough intelligent joy to follow.

And nowhere has this change been more evident than in the quarterback. Alex Smith has played intelligent almost mistake-free football and when called upon has made the big plays. Quite a contrast to his old image of failure, disappointment, and being the object of fans' disappointment and ridicule. This change has been major. Basically even though I was disappointed in his play I always liked him as a person. So I am more than willing to admit I was mistaken about him and that we can only wonder how far this transformation will go. A dream would be Niners vs Packers for the NFC title game. Aaron Rodgers(Whom I wanted the Niners to draft) vs Smith(whom I didn't want). But for all Rodgers brilliance, how can his story match that of Smith?
This is like the Rocky films. Something weak and flawed inside ourselves that is transformed into strength. It is the stuff of wonder. Last season when the Niners were 0-5 I texted a student that the Niners would be 0-6 and that Jim Harbaugh would be the next head coach. I was one for two.

This video was shot outside Tenchi Aikido in Sebastopol. The song is the classic "All the Things You Are"........

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

sci fi double bill from the past

I recently got some pictures from my good friend John Putica(known him since high school) who had some photos of Tojima sensei's visit to Northern California in May of 1979. The color photo is of him taken at Big Trees in Santa Cruz. It is interesting that the Giant tree has a womb-like feel to it. Tojima sensei had this persona of being real cool. He could appear to be just another Japanese tourist with a camera. But of course he wasn't. I hope you enjoy the photo.

Sunday Night (October 31st) I went to the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto for a pair of sci fi classics from the distant past. They were probably special effect extravaganzas for their day.Showing were "Forbidden Planet" and "The Time Machine".
I can't remember if I saw "Forbidden Planet" in theater before. I've certainly seen it countless times on tv. I've always thought of it as Star Trek before Star Trek. Leslie Nielsen plays a very Captain Kirk type Starship commander. The film came out in 1956 and the special effects were done by the Disney studios. Robbie the robot steals the show. The plot is based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest". A starship comes to investigate the survivors on a planet from a previous starship voyage. They find all crew members dead except for a scientist(Morbius played by Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter (Anne Francis). The planet had been inhabited by a very advanced race that for some unknown reason suddenly died out. The crew of the first voyage had its members murdered by some unknown force, bodies literally ripped to pieces. It is mysterious that the scientist has survived somehow. And of course his daughter falls in love with the starship commander. I thought this very Star Trek, although the tv series came out later in the next decade. If you haven't seen it it stands up well and is very entertaining. Anne Francis I remember best as "Honey West" , a sixties half hour tv show that had her portray an Emma Peelish private eye..

"The Time Machine" came out in 1960. It won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects. It starred Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux. I remember seeing it in a theater in Santa Cruz(probably the Del Mar) and being really taken by it. I so wanted to be able to travel through time. There is much more a romantic sense to the Time Traveller and Weena in the film than in the novel....I remember being very scared of the Morlocks. And I remember seeing the film on tv with my parents and still being very enthralled by it. The scene underground where he goes to rescue Weena and confronts the Morlocks was and still is very gripping. In that futuristic world humanity has been divided into two races. There is an underground technological species called the Morlocks, who have descended into cannibalism and raise the surface dwelling and very passive Eloi as food, providing them with food and clothing. I had a chilling thought that in today's world the select few special interests that run the world are like the Morlocks. Have we become Eloi, passively accepting our condition on the planet while corportations really rule us? There was a 2002 version of this film I saw with my friend Marianne. I was very disappointed and much prefer the original. It is interesting that HG Wells emerged later with his time machine to become a semi-regular character on one of my favorite all-time tv shows, the -90's "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman". And the shows featuring this character with its time travel concepts are among my favorite episodes.

In spite of the lack of technological sophistication to the effects, I enjoyed both films immensely. Also seeing them in a real movie Theater, brought back memories from the fifties and sixties of going to see films with my father or my friends in a huge theater.A much different experience than we have now. I recommend you check the listings for the Stanford Theater, as it shows film classics and lets you see it in a theater experience from by gone days. It's charming.

I am including a youtube video of Chet Baker titled "Grey December" . It is mainly a vocal but notice how haunting and expressive his delivery is even though the song is sung very low key. And the trumpet playing is short but sweet.....