Turf Marking

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MMIII-MMVII
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FYI

Things you need to know:
  • Some posts, or the links they contain, are NSFW. This is your only warning.
  • This blog serves the cause of my freedom of speech, not yours. I wield censorship like a 10 year-old boy who just found his father's handgun.

Monday, February 28, 2005

I'm glad E talked me into renting a movie rather than spending another night web surfing at the coffee shop after a shift at the Diamond Mines. Otherwise, I would have never found a used copy of Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer on DVD for sale.

This is a movie I always wanted to own so I could show it to my future kids. I may have mentioned it on here a few posts past, but the movie touches the child in me. It fills me with an awe that I haven't felt about movies since I was a kid, the kind that makes your eyes swell and tear up with excitement. It's that same sense of wonder that makes an 8 year old absolutely sure that anyone who really knew kung fu could fly. That all that physical discipline and training could help forge you into someone better. That at the end of it all, you can become someone with qualities that can make a positive influence on the world, even if you never throw a single punch.

In a sense, it feels like a bridge being formed between that awestruck child of the past and the person of today who's dabbling in all of these martial arts. Sure, I'm healthier, stronger and faster than I've ever been (not that it's necessarily saying all that much). But, what's a person to do with all this health, strength and speed? My reflexes are sharper - training with sticks and blades and hubud will do that to a person. I can catch stuff falling off a shelf, and I haven't been clipped by a door that opens suddenly in years. And, only recently have my jab/cross combos have started getting better. But what's it all in aid of?

Have I really been doing all this training just for my health? Just to become some automatic killing machine in the name of being able to put down any threat to myself or my loved ones? No, there has to be more to it than that. Otherwise, I could just jog, work a Bowflex three times a week and carry a gun and have the same ability (or lack thereof) to accomplish all that stuff.

Shaolin Soccer is all about taking all the internal and external benefits of one set of skills learned in one context and environment and transferring them to a completely different context and environment. That's my aim, or at least, it should be.

I know a lot of people who look at martial arts as an end to itself. They don't see anything much beyond just wanting the skills to prepare for the next fight, in the ring or on the street. I don't have any problem with that. Because almost everyone starts out there. But, it becomes interesting when you look at the most proficient martial artists after they've spent some time becoming proficient at them.

I have a theory based on my limited observations:

First - after a time, their focus shifts from "the next fight" to other things. Usually, constructive things.

Second - You can usually see that in some of the more centered and developed martial artists (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) that they spirit you see them exhibit in the training hall is identical to the one they carry with them almost everywhere else in their life.

My first teacher is one of the highest ranking Tae Kwon Do black belts in this state. He and his wife are also first generation students of their teacher's kung fu system. They love teaching people, and in doing so, about break even financially. All the income that they use to maintain themselves and their family comes from other things. Also, interestingly enough, some of the things they love and cherish the most are, at least as far as I have observed, completely independent of whether or not they can put somebody down. But the same zeal they have in teaching and training is the same zeal they bring back to their home, their business, their church, their friends, and their community.

***

Next time: Just where the heck do I go where all of this?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The last thing on my "Things to get my grubby paws on" list:
  • Technorati account
  • del.icio.us account
  • RSS reader
I have that RSS reader (which also reads Atom feeds, too). There are a million and one of them out there, so I chose the simplest looking one, called RssReader. Thank God 90% of the blogs/web sites I read have feeds. This way, I can streamline my internet time a bit. The only thing this particular reader doesn't do is grab any comments that might come with a particular blog post. But, I can live with that. If there's an interesting enough topic, I can still navigate to that particular webpage using FireFox and see what there is to see.
(MINOR SPOILER AHEAD, but I don't care -- read this post or not, but don't say I didn't warn you. Plus, this is my blog, and I'll leave as much or as little spoiler space as I damn well please.)

E and I saw Constantine on Friday night. I tried to like it, I seriously tried. I only made one "Matrix IV" comment.

Now, to be fair, all the basic elements of the Hellblazer mythos were there. And, I'm not just talking about the smoking and the inclusion of Papa Midnight. I even got past the whole dark hair, black coat, American thing.

But, in the issues of the comic I've read, one thing always stood out to me. Constantine gets by being a con man. For all his knowledge that he possesses and might wish he didn't, the thing that's kept him from Hell so far is, basically, The Grift.

I accept that you can't make a Hollywood movie showing Constantine, or Keanu for that matter, to be as degenerate as he usually appears in the comic. But, the movie violates Constantine's character in one aspect, at least IMO, because one thing wasn't 100% clear (to me). It's too ambiguous whether he conned his way out of damnation or if it really was the result of a fundamental change of heart.

The Constantine I know doesn't have changes of heart. He might have flashes of regret after he does something particularly despicable, though.

E asked me, "Well, then why did you pay money to see it?" I thought about it and then I gave in. "Well, we actually saved money, because we basically got The Matrix, The Exorcist, The Prophecy, and more than one season of both Buffy and Angel all in one sitting and cheaper than if we rented all of them on DVD.

In fact, maybe the problem with the movie is that it was, to me, "Hellblazer for Dummies."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I'm not sure whether or not to turn these posts into a weekly thing, rather than 2x/week. I'm not really learning a lot of "new" things, so to speak (though, when I do pick up new things, they really feel like rare gems). Rather, I'm learning to actually apply what I know.

But then again, I have a file on my computer where I go in week after week and try to jot down some notes about whatever training session I just walked out of. Maybe that's what I'm sick of -- making notes there and posting interesting tidbits from the sessions here. So, I think it's just all going to go here, instead.

Now that that's settled, I'll apologize in advance if these notes seem disjointed or scattershot, or in the extreme, the ramblings of a foolish person dabbling in things he probably shouldn't.

"Get out of the L-stance" - That's my new immediate training goal in my long-term goal of bleeding out the last remnants of my old kung-fu/TKD training (rather: the remnant of those elements that are liabilities). Better for my balance, and tonight, I even actually generated a bit of power from the foot that I didn't let slip behind my lead foot.

Using full-length bastons in corto range - DATU_B is understandably gun-shy around using hardwood. Hey, that's ok - I've no desire to have chips fly into my eye. Anyway, we were playing around with our regular sticks. We were trying to play with this, but we couldn't even agree as to how to execute strikes from the chamber, so we just went ahead and played inside the range with what we knew. Of course, at that range, there are infinite punyo strikes. But, we were playing with extremely tight angle strikes, as well as checking and passing.

New Stuff - I never thought about facing someone with a stick and a knife in that classic fighting stance and making the assumption, "Hey, the player's got his arm across his body - I'll just go in and trap it there." But, B says some people do, and when they do, the defender just uses the motion for an umbrella to drag that player right into his knife. Ew.

Speaking of knife - I don't know exactly how or why it happened, but B and I were in the most intense knife-tapping drill at least I've ever been in. I was the one with the knife and, get this, I actually used my live hand! Oh, I didn't touch B at all, but defending was harder on B than he thought it was going to be, he said.

I love new Panantukan moves - All that trapping, arm shearing, foot sweeps, etc. make a ton more sense now that I'm feeling my way around forward pressure. I remember B telling me once something to the effect of (and, correct me if I'm wrong, B) "People who say 'Trapping doesn't work' don't have footwork."

Why have I had trouble with forward pressure? - Probably for the same inexplicable reason that for all the shots I'm willing to soak up and down the left side of my body, I try hard to protect my right. And to do that, I seem to have this default strategy of avoidance which 99.5% of the time only serves to move that side into the 100% zone of whatever strike is headed to that part of my body.

I drastically need to improve my diet - 'nuff said.

There's probably more, but I'm very tired and I'm done with my juice, so I'm going home and to bed.
I am the Nile!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

YOU ARE THE NILE

At 4145 miles from your furthest extremity to the Mediterranean Sea, you outdo the Amazon to become the world's longest river. The piranhas hate you.

Beneath you lies an underground river with six times your volume. You kept this remarkably quiet for several thousand years. In fact, you're full of mystery; your source wasn't discovered until 1862. You're also full of water. And crocodiles. And nuclear pharaoh machines that run on light and can see through time.
Quote of the Day
So, the girls were home sick yesterday and the boys went out and got blasted.

-E to me, tongue-in-cheek... I think
Yes, DATU_B and I had some marguaritas at the "$2 marguaritas on Wednesdays" place in town. For the first time, I sat in the smoking section. Neither of us spoke, but B wanted to distance us from some undesirable he recognized. Immediately upon sitting in the smoking section, however, we were immediately sized up by these fellows at another table. What, can't two males in a liberal college town sit at the same table in a bar without being stared at? Sheesh. It was all good, because we were joined a few moments later by a crowd of people mostly from the coffee shop I frequent. It was nice to see al these familiar faces, even if I wasn't formally introduced to any of them before last night. There were some extremely interesting conversations.

I wasn't expecting to close down BW-3, but that's what we did after hooking up with a couple of Fight Club people (people who apparently now know this blog exists). I keep forgetting that its their karaoke night. Anyway, we somehow stayed there until close and wandered over to the 24-hour diner place for an early (2 AM) breakfast.

Definitely a pleasant evening.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Continuing E's education of British cult sci-fi TV, I've been showing her old tapes I have of Blake's 7, in my opinion, the best written sci-fi series EVER. It was a series that showed the blurry line between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. There were no black-and-white good guys or bad guys. And, the so-called "good guys" didn't always win. In fact, they sometimes died. Sure, B5's story arcs might have been a bit more complex and Firefly's character development is awesome. But anything these series did, Blake's 7 did first.

I mean, for pete's sake...


Blake's 7's Liberator Posted by Hello


Babylon 5: Crusade's Excalibur Posted by Hello

Anyway, here's something from my old webpages from way back... a collection of out-of-context quotes from the series that someone else put together, and to which I added one or two of my own (marked by **).

All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from Blake's 7

"Reality is a dangerous concept."

"Having defined the problem, the first step towards a solution is the acquisition of data."

"The choice is very simple -- either you can fight, or you can die."

"Change is inevitable... Why else do we fight?"

"Dignity, at all costs, dignity."

"Trust is only dangerous when you have to rely on it."

"He who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken."

"There is no logical reason why aliens should be hairy."

"All knowledge is valuable."

"Any very talented person could have done it."

"Heroics seldom run to schedule."

"It is frequently easier to be honest when you have nothing to lose."

"On Earth it is considered ill-mannered to kill your friends while committing suicide."

"Civilization has always depended on courtesy rather than truth."

"I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going."

"Don't launch any theories until you've tested the water."

"Show me someone who believes in something, and I will show you a fool."

"In the end, your word is all there is, really."

"Some days are better than others, Section Leader."

"The only thing you can make me do is die."

"All that patience gets you is older."

"Regret is part of being alive -- but keep it a small part."

"You should always be careful about getting a second-hand spacecraft."

"No good deed goes unpunished."

"Nobody is indispensible."

"Luck has nothing to do with it."

"There are times when even the most cynical must trust in luck."

"Everyone's entitled to one really bad mistake."

"The art of leadership is delegation."

"Infallibility depends on your point of view."

"In the end, winning is the only safety."

"Power usually makes its own rules."

"It is not necessary to become irrational in order to prove that one cares; indeed, it is not necessary to prove it at all."

"While there's life, there's threat."

"Strategic withdrawl is running away, but with dignity."

"Idealism is a wonderful thing; all you really need is someone rational to put it to proper use."

"A pro keeps it simple."**

"Sentiment breeds weakness. Let it get a hold of you and you are dead."**

"There are other rules, but you'll find out what those are when you break them."
Soak it up, people.
Just a couple of things, really...

ISA
E and I are now licensed to get legally married in our county of our state sometime in the next 60 days. Incidentally, the marriage will be 30 or so.

DALAWA
I'm on my alma mater's alumni mailing list, and saw in the most recent email a solicitation for submissions to a faculty, staff, and alumni literary mag. I looked it up and used my new method of deciding whether or not to submit. I read through the types of stuff they publish and find the piece I like the least and convince myself that if they'll accept that, then I could probably write something that they would probably give some serious consideration. Hey, all they can say is "No" right? They haven't said "No" yet - I just got a form receipt-of-submission email today.

Monday, February 21, 2005

... as in celebrities that send creepy letters to random people. E and I got these in the mail some time ago, and just laughed.


How did she get my address?? Posted by Hello


An urgent message? Well, I'd better open it right up, then. Posted by Hello

Hey, I'm all for celebrities lending their name-recognition for a cause. But, isn't there something a bit insulting about the underlying premise that the name-droppers have to have? "Well, people are bound to open this piece of crap mail, now!"
Writer Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

By ROBERT WELLER, Associated Press Writer

ASPEN, Colo. - Hunter S. Thompson, the hard-living writer who inserted himself into his accounts of America's underbelly and popularized a first-person form of journalism in books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," has committed suicide.

Thompson was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff's officials said. He was 67. Thompson's wife, Anita, had gone out before the shooting and was not home at the time.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I prayed that this was fake. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, it isn't.
I have virtually all of my freedom of movement in my neck and shoulders. There're only vestiges of pain as I try to stretch. I decided it wasn't enough to justify continuing the Vicodin, but perhaps enough to continue the Flexiril. There are still some monkey-fisted knots of tense muscle, but those improve with each dose of the muscle relaxant.

I've added Scott Sonnon's Warrior Wellness DVD series to my wish list. This was recommended to me by the Traceless Warrior himself as a way to cut down on further muscle injuries. Maybe I'll go halfsies with someone, or just wait until someone with gobs of money can get it for me...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Well, my comrade at the Diamond Mines came through with a pair of sticks made from the "ironwood" that the local Bando people use, cut at the appropriate serrada length for me. They're not pretty, but they've been smoothed down as much as possible without messing with the integrity of the wood, and have this slight wideness at the ends (from where branches were about to grow) to make the pieces a bit slip-resistant.

Now, we'll see how long these will last against rattan. This wood is supposedly known to make chain-saws spark, so we'll see.
Well, I made it through last night's Fight Club without much pain. Vicodin is good.

Last night, I had the double whammy of dealing with both BILLY_JACK and KENPO_BOY. BILLY_JACK was laid back, I have to say. Of course, staying as far away from him as I could helped, too. And, in the brief time I worked with him on a drill, there wasn't time for him to make one of his stupid, adolescent, racist, homophobic, mysogynistic comments. Well, keep in mind that he really is an adolescent still, so I try not to be too hard on him.

KENPO_BOY was back to his old self, trying to hog me as a training partner all to his sorry-@$$ self. One time was all it took before I had to start going, "Sorry... we have to switch partners." I don't think he liked it when I ended up working with DATU_J twice, but hey... she's good and actually improves as she works on a technique. Unlike KENPO_BOY... words just fail me. I truly sympathize for all the Kenpo practicioners out there, because he claims all of you. We were working on an umbrella deflection followed by a disarm. All the time he spent verbally analyzing the technique, and he still couldn't pull it off properly. On top of that, imagine the most ineffective, illogical way to throw an umbrella deflection -- the direct antithesis to how that move is done -- and that's how KENPO_BOY threw it.

I think I've gotten selfish in one particular respect as I've gotten older -- I don't like having my time wasted when I'm trying to learn something. Sometimes, you can learn from others' mistakes, but only if they make the "right ones," so to speak. My vine disarms suck. I might have gleaned something from KENPO_BOY's mistakes if I didn't have to reteach him how to throw an umbrella (and fail).
I jumped on the bandwagon and created my account on del.icio.us, which is a nice, handy place to keep and catagorize all the nice links I come across.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I almost forgot that I submitted another piece a few days ago. Ironically, it seems that it was rejected the same day the other one was published. According to the editor's email I just received...
I'm going to pass on this one, but thanks again for the York Peppermint Patties piece. It's proving very popular on the site.

Submit again soon.

John Warner
I guess it was rather lame, but hey. I'd put it on here, but I'm going to take a gander and see if there's anyone else who'll take it.
When there's no one left to leave you,
Even you don't quite believe you,
That's when nothing can deceive you
- Steve Winwood, While You See a Chance
If this guy can get published on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, anyone can...
Rejected York Peppermint Pattie Commercial Blurbs
One line was edited, but I can deal.
I'm still not sure if I'm going to go tonight, but since it'll be mostly FMA stick-work done by DATU_B. As long as there's no throwing involved, I should be good to go.

Last session was the first time I saw my good friend (not) KENPO_BOY, the arrogant hyperkinetic who thinks he's Ed Parker's gift to martial arts. To his credit, he's significantly calmer than I remembered. But, still just as arrogant. He showed this in two instances that I observed.

In the first, he asks me, "Hey, does your arm still hurt from that armbar?" You mean, the lucky standing armbar you got on me last year? Does it still hurt almost 365 days later? Sorry, "Royce," but you're not that good. It actually took me a full two seconds to remember what he was talking about.

In the second, he proves that not only is he knowledgeable to correct DATU_B on stick takedowns (like he did 365 or so days ago), but can correctly show the "foot sweep" that the ONE-ARMED BANDIT (now an officer - I gotta give him another nickname, even if I refuse to refer to him as "datu") was demonstrating that he learned in a seminar he recently attended with one of the de Thouars. Only, it wasn't a foot sweep that was being demonstrated. It was a method for destroying someone's base by using your knee to push one of the opponent's legs out off to a side.

I hope he's there tonight and we can do some stick work so that I could do to KENPO_BOY what I did to him 365 or so days ago, namely stick spar and humiliate him by hitting him multiple time at the same angle. Actually, he humilated himself first by his ridiculous fighting stance he takes (I swear I heard the ghost of Ed Parker groan in agony) that enabled me to land so many rib shots.
I spent most of yesterday couch-ridden and on Flexiril and Vicodin because I came home after Fight Club two nights ago to find that I could barely move my neck. I'm not exactly sure what I could have done to cause all of that. I can't think of anything offhand in the padwork I did. There were some grappling takedowns, too, that started out in a collar-and-elbow tie, but I was never tied up that hard. Actually, it started after the actual club time when I took out my sticks to work some sinawali. I was working some combinations when my neck started to seize up in the middle of it. I thought it was just some sort of stiffness. I even went to get some Icy Hot, but by the time I got home, I was in real pain. I probably wouldn't have slept if not for E's leftover Flexiril.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I actively sought medical attention the next day (with E's help). Maybe it's age, because I've been in more debilitating pain before and waited until it "just went away." But this time, I was like, "Screw this... I'm going to see a doctor." Thank God for health insurance (as crappy as mine is) and urgent care centers. The doc was a D.O. who did some nice neck manipulations and then wrote me a couple of scrips. He would've done something for my back, but my muscles there were too tense. As of now, I've had four doses of Flexiril (the last three actually prescribed - what a coinkidink) and believe it or not, some of my muscles are still tense.

Speaking of which, I was sort of nervous because my insurance does not cover medication. Luckily, the Flexiril that E has is the exact same dosage as prescribed, and the Vicodin was really cheap. Anyway, they're both good $hi+, and I'm still rather loopy. At least I can move about town in a limited fashion. The pain has significantly decreased, but I'm not sure if that's really the case or if the medicine is covering it up.

I've even got a bit more freedom of movement and am a bit less groggy, although I didn't leave the house until after 2 PM. I got my own Flexiril now - only $10 with no insurance. My intent was to call around for the best price which in all probability would have been Walley World, but the price was right at the CVS that's within walking distance from me, so I went there.

I know I have to be careful, because I could very easily go right back to sleep. I lost track of just how much sleep I've gotten in the past two days, but let's just say it was a lot!

Monday, February 14, 2005

God, please tell me this is fake... or some other couple... anything... Please, before my brain turns into Jello.

Via Monkey Disaster
Here's something from the private journal I keep (the one I don't post online):
I feel a distinct lack of stimulation.
It doesn't feel like depression, or even boredom, necessarily. Today's a day off from the Diamond Mines, and I've made rather insignificant progress on a multitude of tasks I wanted to accomplish today, accomplishing only two or three things of any real significance.

I feel like Peter Gibbons from Office Space after winning a million dollars. Only, I don't have a million dollars. I feel distractable. I've spent the last, I'd say two hours in this coffee shop (in no particular order)...
  • Reading another story in the latest issue of Pindeldyboz.
  • Going through the ringworld, since E and I recently saw Ringu.
  • Having a nap.
  • Mentally going over how I would like my wedding vows (E and I are going to construct ours).
  • Reviewing notes I made from The Filipino Martial Arts that focus on basic movements relating to attack and deflection.
Of these things, I'd say I only accomplished one thing. But, that brings to mind several questions. Was I really planning to have all of Pindeldyboz 4 read? Was I really planning to have my wedding vows drafted by the end of today? Was I going to finish outlining the whole of the Inosanto book? Not really. So, just what is it am I in a tizzy about? Why do I feel so dissatisfied? What would satisfy me?

Perhaps it's more accurate to say that I feel a distinct lack of focus.
If the inside is on the outside
There is no pain
- Sons of Champlin, 1982-A
The other night, E and I sat down to an old favorite, Glengarry Glen Ross. Watch it once for the David Mamet script and laugh at the large helpings of profanity and verbal abuse the characters heap upon one another. Watch it again to see it for the fascinating study of human nature that it is. And to think it almost didn't get made, despite the cast list - Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Jonathan Harris. It took five years to get funding because the film contained no sex or (physical) violence.

I don't want to spoil it, but I just have to comment about the ultimate outcome of the sales contest that was part of the basis of the film (Highlight the area below for SPOILERS):

SPOILER (Don't say I didn't warn you!)
The four workers are given an ultimatum by their employers. There's a sales contest where whoever comes in fourth place will be fired. Ricky Roma (Pacino) is the top salesman on the board. He's on a streak and in no danger. Moss (Harris) is a distant second, and conspires to steal the company's premium leads and sell them to a competitor. He tries to enlist Aaronow (Arkin), a milquetoast at the bottom of the board, to help him. The last salesman, Shelley Levine (Lemmon) isn't even on the board. He struggles between his financial problems and denying the fact that he's a has-been.

At the end of the movie, you can clearly infer that both Moss and Levine are eliminated from the "dog eat dog" contest (i.e. life) because of their choices. This leaves the positions of the lucky/skilled/talented Roma and the weak milquetoast Aaronow - who, despite his utter lack of sales performance, is able to continue on - intact.

END SPOILER
...because apparently, no one can seem to come up with a convincing reason to trust them over anyone else.

Is the truth about the 9/11 crash of Flight 77 to be found in the link I referenced here, or in this month's cover story in Popular Mechanics? I read bits of the article in the hard copy version. But, apart from the "We're PM, b!+ch!" vibe, I really didn't see any reason to trust that their interpretation of the facts was necessarily any more valid than the ones from various wackos anyone else's. Oh sure, PM's photos were cleaner. Being a long-running print magazine doesn't hurt, either. Neither does not having hard rock music playing behind your thankfully absent Flash presentation.

So, what happened? I don't know, but I've got more coffee to drink.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A wise man once said...
I don’t need another long coffee break
I’ve had as much coffee as a man can take
I need to change my disposition
Change my point of view
I need time to figure out what I want to do


- Huey Lewis & the News, Couple Days Off
Well, maybe after one more cup of coffee...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Well, how can last night's session top the last one I wrote about? There was no blood to be had, whatsoever.

Last night, I noticed just how much my awareness has expanded doing padwork without the use of my specs. I simply can't make the mistake of focusing, say, on a fist and thus react too late when it starts coming. I've no other choice than to focus on what I see, namely, a mass with four limbs. I'm simply forced to look for the any telegraph I can find before the technique is thrown.

So, all that being said, I don't know why it was that basics like my left hook sucked last night, but my spear knees were going off well.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Yes, much like the good Doctor, I've changed my appearance... at the bottom of the right menu bar, that is, with the help of Portrait Illustration Maker. I'm glad this Doctor didn't come and subject me to his mental domination for borrowing his image.


Here are some I made, in order of preference. Posted by Hello
I've ranted a bit on this before - a commentary on NPR by author Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) on Misunderstanding the First Amendment. I largely agreed with his main point...
The First Amendent protects you from being jailed, tortured, or executed for speaking your mind. Period. It is part of the United States Constitution, which sets the rules for how our government behaves. It does not protect you from the consequences of making an ass out of yourself. It is a little bit touching that so many Americans equate losing your gig in Las Vegas, or the distributor for your film, or your cushy role as a corporate spokesman, with genuine government oppression.
For no real reason apart from a few spare minutes of time on my hands here and there, I've revisited that position. I haven't recanted. But, I'm wrestling with the notion that there are powerful people, some powerful enough to be de facto governments in and of themselves, who can shut down your ability to express yourself as effectively as any government soldier from a true dictatorial regime. Whether it's via lawsuits, spin-doctoring or threats to your economic well-being, the end result is the same as if some Federali held a knife to your throat.

But, here's the point where it takes me back around to my original point of view. If you have the intelligence and the wherewithal to put together a logical, yet controversial argument about, say, the price of tea in China, then you should have the intelligence to know that you could be ticking some people off. And, at that point, doesn't it become like any other life choice where you actually, God forbid, have to weigh out the potential consequences of your actions before deciding to run your mouth?

I haven't decided yet. But, the reason the whole thing has come back to the forefront of my mind was this story...
Academic Freedom in the Post-Sept. 11 Era

Talk of the Nation, February 9, 2005 · A controversial essay by a University of Colorado professor has state officials calling for his ouster.
I realize the situation is different because the concept of academic freedom comes into play here. But, when state officials start sticking their nose in there... well, it's messy, isn't it?
I get asked this question often enough. Now, I'll be able to answer...





You Are From Neptune



You are dreamy and mystical, with a natural psychic ability.
You love music, poetry, dance, and (most of all) the open sea.
Your soul is filled with possibilities, and your heart overflows with compassion.
You can be in a room full of friendly people and feel all alone.
If you don't get carried away with one idea, your spiritual nature will see you through anything.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Robert Palmer, Johnny Cash, ODB (ok, just kidding about that one)... and now...
Jazz Organ Pioneer Jimmy Smith Dies
Wed Feb 9, 2005 5:00 PM ET

By Arthur Spiegelman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Organist Jimmy Smith, who helped change the sound of jazz by almost single-handedly introducing the electric riffs of the Hammond B-3 organ, has died at age 79 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, his record label said on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Concord record label said Smith died of natural causes.

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 8, 1925, Smith ruled the Hammond B-3 in the 1950s and 1960s and blended jazz, blues, R&B, bebop and even gospel into an exciting stew that came to known as "soul jazz" -- an idiom that produced imitators, followers and fans.
If you don't check out any of the classics listed in the article, one album you should definitely check out is Damn! Besides his version of Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, there's this arrangement of Herbie's Watermelon Man that's a must for anyone tired of the same old version redone over and over.
...because, as most of you know, I don't do spam. I could, but the majority of people in my address book would likely jam objects into my eye sockets if I did.

Meme sent by E...

1.What time did you get up this morning?
9:55 AM

2.Diamonds or pearls?
Diamonds (bling bling!)

3.What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
House of Flying Daggers

4.What is your favorite TV show?
Blake's 7

5.What did you have for breakfast?
A sausage and egg sandwich, coffee.

6.What is your middle name?
Francisco Garcia Chavez y Chavez (just kidding)

7.What is your favorite meal?
Meat

8.What foods do you dislike?
Tomatoes

9.What is your favorite chip flavor?
Kettle-cooked jalapeno

10.What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Robert Lamm's Subtlety & Passion

11.What kind of car do you drive?
E's

12.Favorite sandwich?
Any italian sub with no tomato and liberal helpings of Helmann's mayo.

13.What characteristics do you despise?
"Know-it-all" arrogance from a person who just can't shut up, and wouldn't give a serious listen to a dissenting opinion in any case.

14.Favorite item of clothing?
My dad's old 1972 leather jacket.

15.If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
The Philippines - I need to try bahi sticks, since kamagongs are no good here.

16.Favorite brand of clothing?
Whatever I can afford.

17.Where would you (like to) retire?
Yellow Springs, OH or anywhere on the west coast.

18.What was your most memorable birthday?
Honestly -- I can't remember.

19.Favorite sport to watch?
Tennis

20.Who do you least expect to send this back to you?
N/A - that's why I do it this way.

21.Person you expect to send it back first?
N/A/ - that's why I do it this way.

22.What fabric detergent do you use?
E's (i.e. Purex (no scent, no color))

23.Coke or Pepsi?
Coke, but only if it's Vanilla Coke

24.Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl.

25.What is your shoe size?
8 1/2EEE

26.Do you have any pets?
Nope.

27.Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with your family and friends?
Anyone who needs to know, knows what's up.

28.What did you want to be when you were little?
Batman

29.What are you meant to be doing today?
Sitting in a coffee shop, writing hilarious and/or creepy prose.

30.What is your favorite cocktail??
Manhattan

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ok, truth to tell, I'm not all that upset. DATU_B and I have shown that kamagong (or whatever it was we had), no matter the density or diameter, will shatter in North America. Mine took a mere 4 hits (read: 1 "test" and 3 full power shots) against combat-grade rattan before it broke cleanly in two. A picture will be forthcoming.

Another lesson we learned was that a bad time to practice espada y daga techniques is after your limbs feel like lead after BJJ free-rolling. Such a scenario lends itself to, say, one's own stick ricocheting back into one's own eyebrow, cutting it open.

Sorry, DATU_B.

I almost didn't participate in the free-rolling, being fully cognizant of just how long I'd been without any BJJ training. You can call it cowardly, but my first move out of the gate was a clean rear-naked. But, after being chided by DATU_B, I loosened up and grappled fair and square. The good news is, I've still got all that hubud-inspired defense; I never felt in any danger of getting tapped. The bad news is that it wasn't until I got gassed when I started remembering my guard escapes and other simple transitions. I give points to myself for jumping in, though. After all, how else do you remember the things you have to work on, right?
Ok, Chicago, you've got one more chance. The next album you release better be an album of NEW material, NOT another repackaging of your greatest hits with a couple of new songs thrown in of the sort you've been releasing for what's been damn near a decade now. I've been holding out since Chicago XXVI, now. So, having every numbered album from CTA on, how many versions of You're the Inspiration, 25 or 6 to 4, Beginnings, Hard Habit to Break, & Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away does that make, now? I shudder to count. I even bought your live DVDs.

As of today, I don't feel a damn bit sorry for "finding" a copy of Stone of Sisyphus (although, I'd still pay for it if you released it). I know this -- when I "find" copies of Philip Bailey singing If You Leave Me Now and Bill Champlin singing After the Love Is Gone (a version of which I've already "found"), I'm not going to feel the least bit bad about it.

Disgustingly,
Don

PS I'd take it all back if you released a live concert album consisting mainly of songs from Chicago VII.
So, DATU_B calls me up about 30 minutes ago to tell me that The Traceless Warrior commented about this blog -- kind comments, at that. Being the kind of guy he is, DATU_B just had to throw in a joke about, "Yeah, you've been challenged to a patayan by a Silat master." I could feel my life think about starting to flash before my eyes before he goes, "Nah, just kidding."

Monday, February 07, 2005

DATU_B sent me this presentation about the Flight 77 strike to the Pentagon on 9/11. Or, was it?

Could be real. Could be fake. The point is that all these years later, people are still looking for whatever it is they consider "the truth" behind it all. Me? I'm still wondering about who was mailing all that anthrax around. But, what does it say about me when, overshadowing these issues are: How to finish this story I'm writing, how to structure my personal training time, and whether I should settle for downloading the five minute edit of James Brown's Super Bad or hold out until I find the nine minute version?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

ONE
A friend of mine at the Diamond Mines was (is?) a Bando practicioner (he goes fishing with the grandmaster occassionally). We were talking about my kamagong/ironwood problems. Well, not really "problems," as I still have two intact sticks -- but, for how long? Anyway, he related an analogy of a relative who travelled abroad who made himself drink the local water to acclimate to whatever nasty buggers might be in there. Anyway, this guy suggested to me that we could be having a parallel problem, transplanting tropical ironwood sticks for use here. So, he offered me some spare ironwood from his property. That was his name for it... "ironwood" (probably Ostrya virginiana, but I'm not sure). I asked him to cut me a pair at serrada length. I even gave him my cannibalized serrada stick I got from a broken training stick at Fight Club. Yesterday, he showed me a sample and returned my stick. This wood is pretty damn hard... one crack with it, and I destroyed my old stick. The only thing is, my friend doesn't have a lathe, but I don't care. The diameter is right, they're straight and with a pair of them - that sounded very homoerotic, didn't it? Anyway, the point is that they'll make good weapons.

TWO
I'm at the coffee shop right now, and again all the hipsters know a cool, genuine vintage leather 1972 coat when they see one and can deliver the appropriate compliments.

Speaking of the coffee shop, I'll be damned... someone's sitting at a table right in front of me with a cup from the freakin' Starbucks! Got'damn, that's just rude. I wish I had a camera right now.

THREE
Here's a bit of hilarity from American Conservative - could the Right end up scared of itself? Good.
February 14, 2005 Issue
Copyright © 2005 The American Conservative

Hunger for Dictatorship

War to export democracy may wreck our own.

by Scott McConnell

[snip]

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as “hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.” One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it’s not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. “It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.”
Ah, the things that make you smile. If people in their own party are raising eyebrows, I wonder just what it'll take for the average Joe Blows to fall into mass hysteria. You'd have thought it would've happened by now.

FOUR
I don't know, but I hope the GOP's worst fear comes true and Bill Clinton somehow ends up the Secretary-General of the UN.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Well, I skipped Fight Club again last night, after finally getting the coach's pass and all. Oh, well. Mrs. DATU_B has been out of town, so the man invited me over. After a Tecate or three, we played with kamagong and watched The Punisher, which was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I wished The Russian was played by Dolph, but that's just a fanboy talking. The same fanboy who isn't too keen on watching The Matrix IV Constantine. Oh, I'll give it a chance, but I refuse to see it until a couple of weeks after it premieres. That way, I'll only have to worry about the hard core Hellblazer fans seeing it for the 20th time, because they'll usually keep their yaps quiet enough as they fixate on whether whatever demon is depicted is modeled after First of the Fallen, Second, or Third.

Speaking of kamagong, we put B's remaining, intact stick next to mine and saw that whatever we have (because this is the first time either of us have seen kamagong up close), we've got two different types of wood. The color, texture (although that could just be the finish on mine), weight, and density are different. Oddly enough, we couldn't seem to bust his remaining stick with mine - but that could've been the Tecate. We thought maybe that I could have a different wood like bahi or something. But, I distinctly remember the sales tag on my sticks saying "kamagong," although in the P.I. you can never be too sure. But, either that's the case, or DATU_B just got straight ripped off. That's ok, I promised him sticks from the Old Country the next chance I get. Sheesh, if I'd have known my folks could get their hands on sticks like I got for less than $4.00USD, I'd have asked for 10 pairs.

Somewhere in there, he showed me some training techniques he picked up from a seminar by Inosanto himself (aka "God"). Espada y daga after a couple of beers in the kitchen. That's what's called traditional FMA training. All that's missing are the patayan challenges, but I don't wanna screw with that (at least not 'til I find out how strong these "kamagongs," or whatever the heck I have, are).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

This is along the lines of this picture that I've made reference to not too long ago. It's a minute-long .avi video from Filipino Combat Systems. In it is a demonstration of various methods of closing the distance. But the real interesting stuff takes place after the 30-second mark when the man to the left does some very interesting-looking close range stuff.

Can't wait 'til Fight Club tonight, especially now that I've got my Coaches Pass!
This is why The Traceless Warrior is my favorite blog. Not only can he make an angry, yet completely thorough argument against a quiet movement to allow non-US-born citizens to become President, but he can also dispense knife training tips.

I bow down to this blog. My blog wants to be like his when it grows up!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Random thoughts and happenings, but of some more substance than what blaxploitation movie I saw lately.

ONE
I spent a little bit of time before and after the Diamond Mines at the coffee shop. In the morning, I only had 20 minutes, just enough to check my email. I bore witness to two ladies and a young man in the midst of a crisis. One of these people was someone I had written about before - a young lady who had a rather loud, obnoxious, and dare I say redneck conversation with the father of her baby. I believe the most memorable quote was (I posted it sometime back, but am too lazy to dig it up now), "Well, you're the one who stuck your d!ck in me and got me pregnant!"

Well, she was back and had two friends with her, one of which was due to get married 5:30 PM yesterday. Turns out her plans were in jeopardy. Well, not really, because as she screamed repeatedly, "This ceremony is taking place regardless!" Turns out the best man is nowhere to be found and they have a strong suspicion that it means he's in jail. They sent a cronie (who seems like one of SUM_YUNG_GAI's disciples) to the city police station to see; he could find no trace. So, the three of them plot the next move which is to send the cronie to the County Sheriff's station next door to the coffee shop. The cronie was excited to see a person carrying three guns past the coffee shop window toward the Sheriff station. The ladies said to him, "Will you just go over there [the station] and see [if the best man is being held at the station]?" To where he replied, "Yeah... I wanna see if that dude wants to sell one of them." as he makes that automatic pistol chamber-loading motion that you see some rappers do nowadays.

So, I leave and return to the coffee shop after work. I was tired and it was the open mike poetry night, which my three new friends attended. The Bride (turns out, she must've pulled off the wedding after all - although her husband seemed conspicuously absent) is apparently a regular reader and read something that someone requested, a piece that contained (big surprise) a long string of "beatmelickmeblankmeblankyblankyblankyme" or some such drivel. The kind you'd expect from a Sylvia Plath wannabe who probably reads and writes at a seventh-grade level.

After the session was done, her party have this conversation where she proceeds, and very loudly, too, to share the details of her life's story, which include in no particular order...
  • The fact that her mother is an alcoholic currently married to a drug addict.
  • Her father is henpecked by his current wife who would not allow him to attend the wedding.
  • That the bride has spent the last 11 years bouncing back and forth between the two.
  • That if it could be drunk, smoked, shot, snorted, she's done it.
  • That some other gentleman other than the groom proposed to her to get in the way of their marriage.
  • That said bride and groom had only been together about a month at the time of the proposal (although I could've misunderstood - it could've been a month before the wedding day yesterday)
  • My favorite quote: "I have been off my psych meds for two weeks, and I am not responsible for a God damn thing I do."
Were I a mental health case manager in this town, wanna bet she'd be on my caseload?

TWO
I feel - rather, I have decided - that any bad karma I may have generated with my bad behavior at the Diamond Mines is now offset by the random acts of kindness I did yesterday. Screw you, bad karma.

THREE
I decided that I needed a playlist of chillout music. It's a nice mix of old school jazz, "new school" jazz, smooth jazz, trip hop, unreleased Chicago instrumentals from the 70s and some pop. If the first six tracks don't relax me, there's something wrong...
  • Embryonic Journey by Jefferson Airplane
  • Aire by Chicago about 10 years before You're the Inspiration off an album that you could play right next to any jazz fusion album of the time.
  • Drophere by dZhan & Kamien
  • Deep Love (Nitin Sawhney Remix) by Mandalay
  • Higher Grounds by Ingrid Jensen - I gotta break down and buy some of her albums. If Wynton and his people could revitalize jazz by reviewing mid-1950s/early-1960s jazz, Ingrid and her people are doing the same with the late-60s/early-1970s era.
  • Pablo & Andrea by Yo La Tengo off of the Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy soundtrack.
Ah, the things I would do if I had the space for an mp3 blog or podcasting...

FOUR
Tomorrow I get to carry out bits of the marriage plan!!

FIVE
After tomorrow night's Fight Club, I may not have kamagong sticks. One of DATU_B's shattered last week. Now, granted, mine are thicker and come from the Old Country. B posted a query on the Eskrima digest and the replies he got were along the same lines as what I found with my own independent online research: Most of the respondents said that kamagong shatters easily outside the Philippines (because of the humidity or lack thereof) and thus they carry them for show or solo training. But, there's a minority out there (not generally from/in the PI) that swear by their kamagongs and claim they've worked for years.

Well, I'm going to find out tomorrow. I've got it all planned out - one stick I'll test against rattan and the other against hardwood. If they're going to shatter, I'd rather they shatter in training than in situations that are, let's say, more serious...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

In lieu of attending Fight Club tonight (I'm just too tired tonight), I spent some time going over the Inosanto book while listening to mediocre poetry at the coffee shop. Incidentally, this coffee shop began offering a light roast, and I got to be the second person to sample it. I have to say, I noticed the caffeine difference. But, I digress.

I saw of photograph of a technique that seems a bit dirty (i.e. one that I want to learn and immediately apply), which is a hand check followed by a "defanging-the-snake" type of strike. Instead of posting the photo straight up, I'm just adding a link out of respect for the author. Even though it's well within the Fair Use laws, I fear for my physical safety (not from the author, but anyone who might be offended).

Here's the pic.