Archive for April, 2011

Samurai Movie Night

Aiki was three feet off the ground with excitement after class on Saturday in anticipation of hosting a samurai movie night that evening. We assured him that we were coming and showed up at the duly appointed time.

A-D answered the door in full battle regalia (where does he get this stuff?!) and ushered us into the viewing room. After insisting that we bow in (TV ni rei and otagai ni rei), he had us continue to sit in seiza as he proceeded to distribute a lengthy handout. This consisted of study notes - apparently we were to do a comparative analysis of the two movies we were going to watch: The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven - and talking points for a general discussion of Zen and bushido as they pertained to the cinematic history of the genre in general. For instance:

“Is it necessary to stand under a waterfall and meditate in order to be a good samurai, and if so, how often?”

We quietly slipped the notes under various sofa cushions and urged Aiki-Doh!-ka to get on with the show (and to bring a bottle opener)…

The movies were great - they were classics after all - and A-D didn’t seem to notice that we abandoned seiza about fifteen minutes into the first movie. He did, however, insist that we have an intermission in order to go outside for a session with our bokken, which made us very thirsty indeed. Fortunately, there was still a goodly supply of beer, and thankfully this seemed to make Aiki forget the discussion session planned for after the show.

In short, a good time was had by all, and we vowed to do it again soon. Any movie recommendations?



Thai Souvlaki

I love Saturday morning class - it’s a great way to shake off any stress that lingers from the work-week and set up the weekend for re-creation. And so Aiki’s invitation to lunch fell on a happy place.

“Hey, wanna go for some Thai souvlaki?”

“Excuse me? Thai souvlaki?”

“Yeah. Sensei was talking about it all through class. It made me hungry.”

I was perplexed. It’s true, sometimes sensei  references food during class (See Cheeseburger Atemi), but I didn’t recall a reference to Thai souvlaki…unless…

“Aiki, do you mean tai sabaki?”

“Yeah! Thai souvlaki - must be some new kind of street meat…”

“Um, A-D, I think sensei was saying tai sabaki. It means ‘body movement’.”

“Oh, right. Well, it still made me hungry…”

We quickly showered and changed and hit the bricks, having decided to enjoy the fine weather by walking downtown. As we cut through the park, I noticed all the litter that had emerged now that the snow was gone and expressed my dismay to Aiki-Doh!-ka.

“You have to learn how to blend with it,” he said. “The best thing is to just pick it up.” He stooped and snatched up one of the ubiquitous plastic bags. “That way you don’t have to look at it and feel angry the next time you walk through the park.”

I remained silent as I struggled to digest his words.

“Not only that, but if the park is clean, people are less likely to discard their trash. There’s a ripple effect.”

Hmmm. I liked what he was saying…

“Also, if people see you doing it they might be inspired to do the same thing.” This as he rescued a pop can from the grass beside the path. He continued his treatise.

“But the best part is that it’s an opportunity to train…”

With that statement he launched himself into a front roll, grabbing some more trash on the way.

I could only stare in wonder.

“…practice deep stances…”

He mimed pinning a ‘trash uke‘ before plucking it from the ground and stuffing it into the plastic bag that he had scavenged. Well, I had to hand it to A-D, he made a strong case and I decided to join him. Soon we were rolling our way across the park like a couple of ninja retrieving weapons on a battlefield. Gotta hand it to Aiki, he sure knows how to make his own fun.

Then I saw the geese.

I looked more closely at the lawn we were rolling on, and realized it was covered in goose -

“Sure looks better, eh,” said A-D with a sweep of an arm that took in the tidy strip of park in our wake.

Instead of replying, I reached out and slowly turned him around. Yep. Those geese had been busy all over the park, and we’d been picking up more than litter. I didn’t have the heart to tell Aiki, so I proposed that we go to my place for lunch instead; I figured I could slip his jacket (and mine!) into the washer while we ate and he’d be none the wiser. He wavered, puzzled, until I told him I had just rememberd I had a Thai cookbook at home - maybe we could find a recipe for Thai souvlaki.

His face broke into a wide grin as I led him back across the park and past the geese…