Kung Fu Fighting

The tournament on Saturday was a lot of fun. Six people competed and we brought home nine medals. Photos are here , and a writeup will be following shortly.

Yes, that is the Flash photo application I created a couple of weeks ago. It still has some rough spots but it works. You will need the latest version of the Flash 6 player to use it.

Sifu Chung, the event host and organizer, told us a few weeks ago that there would be a Praying Mantis sifu at the tournament who had studied with Master Lee ‘s instructor Chiu Chuk Kai (hereafter referred to as Sigong). This instructor, Sifu Tony Chuy, studied with Sigong in Hong Kong after Master Lee came to America. All the time he was a student he had heard stories about Master Lee but had never met him.

Before the tournament started we noticed someone we didn’t recognize but who was wearing the crest of our style of Kung Fu. He was obviously looking for someone, so when he got close, Rick said “Are you from New York?”

“Yes.”

“This is Sifu Lee.”

Sifu Chuy said “Okay”, then he flinched and and his jaw hit the floor when he realized that the person he had been waiting for 25 years to meet was right in front of him.

As fun as the rest of the day was, that was the best moment.

We don’t have a lot of contact with other schools, so it is easy to forget how big the world of martial arts really is. For instance, on Saturday I watched people performing Tai Chi Praying Mantis kung fu, Seven Star Praying Mantis kung fu, Wing Chun, Jow Gar, Pak Mei and Kempo. I saw Jeung, Wu, Yang and Chen style Tai Chi,and I participated in an Iron Shirt Chi Kung demonstration. All of this at a small (though highly respected) martial arts tournament in Midland.

It is good to be reminded that we are part of such an extraordinary world.

Stardust

If thou beest borne to strange sights, Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand daies and nights,
Till age snow white haires on thee,
Thou, when thou retorn’st, wilt tell mee
All strange wonders that befell thee…

Marc Joseph Oettinger
September 28, 1975 – May 23, 2003
Godspeed

On Not Letting Art Die

Lawrence Lessig has been fighting the Good Fight , trying to get the Eldred Act bill introduced to congress. He has posted a link to make it easier to contact your elected servant . The Eldred Act FAQ is here .

I can hear you thinking: Why should I care about books and music staying copyrighted forever? The answer is, human greed. When a book is no longer bringing in money for a publisher, they stop printing it. It goes “out of print”. They still own the book. No-one else can print copies of the book. The copies that have been printed are the only copies which will ever be printed.

Sometimes, occasionally, rarely, the publisher will sell the rights to another publisher, so that the new publisher can print the book. After a while, the book isn’t bringing in any money, and goes out of print. Given that publishers seldom trade rights back and forth, this makes little difference in the overall scheme of the copyright-induced loss of history and culture.

I will tell you this: My very favorite book as a child was Go Dog Go. It was published in 1961. Someday I plan to have a kid or two. If that book is out of print when I need it, I will find a used copy, scan it, make .jpgs of it, and release it to every file-sharing service in existence. Publisher copyright be damned. The owners of the rights to Go Dog Go do not have my permission to allow the book to go out of print. If it does, and they do not WITHIN NANOSECONDS either sell the rights or release the book to the public domain, then that is a crime against every person ever read, and every person who will never read, Mr. Eastman’s wonderful book.

Laws do not matter, property rights do not matter. Only the easy and continued availability of the book matters. This applies not only to Go Dog Go, but to every book, poem, essay, op/ed piece, song, play and story ever published in this country. Let none of them ever again be unavailable to the public for any reason.

In other news, here is a picture of a mushroom.

re: Visions

I began to read Jim Harrison when one of my college professors came in to the bookstore to pick up a copy of Wolf. This was about the time that the movie of the same name, written by the same author, but having nothing to do with the book, was in the theaters.

So, being fresh enough out of college that I still wanted to read everything the professors were reading, I picked it up. Since then I have read just about everything Harrison has written, and even attempted to read things others have written about him. The latter tend to be kind of shallow and boring. There are two collections of his articles and essays currently in print, and some collections which contain his work.

Harrison has a new book out – a conversation in verse with longtime friend Ted Kooser, called Braided River. The conversation takes the form of short verses – three to six lines, usually, which can easily be imagined scribbled on the back of postcards in the midst of cross-country drives. The tone of the verses, which alternate between Harrison and Kooser, feels like gentle jazz riffs on traditional haiku:

We flap our gums, our wattles, our
featherless wings in non-native air
to avoid being planted in earth,
watching the bellies of passing birds.

On its stand on the empty stage
the tuba with its big brass ear
enjoys the silence

The verses alternate between authors, but there is no mention of who wrote what. The back cover of the book says When asked about attributions for the individual poems, one of them replied, “Everyone gets tired of of this continuing cult of the personality… This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials.”

Having not yet read any of Kooser’s individual work I can’t say for certain which verses are his, but many of Harrison’s are obvious, and read like inside jokes to his old friend.

Braided Creek is a thoroughly enjoyable read. With so much of what is published today relying on pop culture references and turgid vocabularies, the simple, real verses within are a refreshing change, like cold water on a sunburned scalp.

The one-eyed man must be fearful
of being taken for a birdhouse.

What is it the wind has lost
that she keeps looking for
under each leaf?

To have reverence for life
you must have reverence for death.
The dogs we love are not taken from us
but leave when summoned by the gods.

Base Materialism

A couple of eagerly awaited packages from Amazon.com arrived today. First was the DVD of Equilibrium, a terribly under-appreciated movie when it hit the theaters. Watching it again…wow. It could be called derivative, but then again, name one movie in the past ten years which wasn’t.

Second, Cages, by Dave McKean. Cages is a 500-page, hardcover graphic novel. McKean both wrote and illustrated it. In a couple of weeks, when I have finished reading it, I will post a review. For right now, again…wow.

So tell me: what have you been doing lately?

Lucky Thirteenth

My time, as usual, is not my own. Far too much to do, and far too little time in which to do it. At last count, four friends are getting married this summer. Well, eight friends. Four weddings. This in addition to a martial arts tournament, a martial arts demonstration, a holiday, a vacation and a girlfriend. Suddenly it’s September, and where did the summer go?

On a positive note, my brother just proposed to his girlfriend.

On another positive note, yesterday I figured out how to properly pleat and wear a great-kilt (for a wedding this weekend).

And last but not least, we’re-here is back !