Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thor review and more

I've seen "Thor" a couple of times so I am writing a review. All said and done I liked it better than the Iron Man films, although I consider those films a bit slicker and better fitted to today's world. Yet Thor takes on a more ambitious project, trying to bring to life a mythical god in the form of a superhero. And of course both Iron Man and Thor are members of the superhero team the Avengers. And that film will likely be quite good.

Thor came out in the comics in the early sixties. And with the revisionist tendency in comics, there was a Thor for each decade. The one I am most closely bonded with is the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby version of the '60's. I thought the film did a good job of acknowledging all the Thors. Jane Foster, nurse to Thor's mortal self Dr Don Blake, is now an astral-physicist. And Natalie Portman does a great job. And Chris Hemsworth's Thor is also good. Stan Lee loved to write this title because it gave him a chance to write Shakespearean dialogue. Not that a Norse God of Thunder has to speak like Hamlet. But at the time different and entertaining. And there is just enough of that along with Hemsworth's ability to have an immortal swagger and at the same time be lovable that makes the movie go. And his preference for mortal Jane over the goddess Sif is also interesting. In the comics Jane made her exit when given a chance to be an immortal she chose to not and Thor then went on to Sif.

The real scene stealer is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He reminds us what makes evil so dangerous is how seductive it is. He is able to take Odin's wisdom and Thor's power and turn them against each other. It was always so in the comics as well. So definitely see the film if you already haven't.

May 13th was the 23rd anniversary of Chet Baker's mysterious death. Our own Bruce Peterson was in Amsterdam and e-mailed me photos of both the hotel Baker stayed in his last night and also the plaque that is in front of that building to this day honoring him. A very entertaining book is the Evan Horne mystery by Bill Moody entitled "Looking for Chet Baker". It is a very imaginative part fact and part fiction look at the mystery surrounding Baker's death. It's interesting to me that I discovered his music when I was the same age he was when he died. And I picked up the trumpet after a 40 year hiatus on May 5th of '07, right around the date of his passing. I want to thank Alex Kolbosov for a 5 cd collection with some material I had never heard.

I am including a video of some music Dennis and I did at the recent party at Barbara's house:

Thursday, May 05, 2011


During my teens my favorite Marvel superhero was Thor. And lo and behold the movie opens tomorrow. With a new universe coming in and Ragnarok waiting in the wings we've actually made it (or so it seems) to the opening of Thor. Lots of energy. 5 planets all lined up in Aries(energy, assertion, aggression). And on top of that on a dark moon the bin Laden slaying(thank you Andrea Mallis) . So a lot going on. And it seems fitting that with such planetary force in action we have the God of Thunder in movie form....

The cover I have showcased is from Journey into Mystery 101. It is perhaps my favorite comic book cover. Ever. A giant robot hand coming out of nowhere. A Lex Luthor look-alike on its palm. The God of Thunder whirling his mythical hammer ready for whatever may come......I loved the Shakespearean diaglog Stan Lee wrote. I loved the fact that he had a human side with a noticeable weakness(lame leg). And he had a majesty and power that could manifest in incredible anger, hence the storm god image. I have always thought that Susano no mikoto, the thunder/storm god of the Kojiki was the same archetype in a different mythology. And of course Susano was one of Osensei's major archetypes from the Japanese myths.....

I had a lot of trouble with his father Odin. Odin was always prying into Thor's private life(he was in love with his nurse) and messing around with Thor's power.....
I think Anthony Hopkins should be a great Odin. So as you can tell I am looking forward to the movie. I'll do a review after I've seen it.

I am including the second part of the recent demo at the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cupertino Demo--Without Mats!

On Saturday April 30th we did a demo for the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival. This included children, teens, and adult members of Aikido of San Jose. Now the mats are important for demos in general. And it is easier if they are provided as opposed to our shipping and carrying them ourselves. So there was a confusion as to whether or not the mats would be provided on the other end. Always much simpler. But in this case there was a misunderstanding and they were not.

So we had a 30 minute gap to fill. My personal sense is that sometimes opportunity knocks in strange ways. So we had to be more creative in how we represented the art. Sometimes it is easy to just give a physical/athletic demonstration of the art. So to talk about the history, the philosophy, is important as well. Sword and staff presentations can be good. Having the children and teens was good as it demonstrated that aikido is not just for a particular age group.

Having done countless such demos and then trying to watch and listen to myself after on video, I actually enjoyed this presentation and think we did a very good job. The video is about half. And I will put the other half online soon.