Well, I didn't get the posting that I'd hoped to done, obviously. I've been frenzied busy over the past two days winding things up before Thanksgiving break. As usual, we're visiting my mother's family in New Orleans. Right now, we're in a motel in Athens, Alabama or thereabouts. It's just after 1 a.m. local time, and I've driven most of the night through a thoroughly annoying rainfall.
I'll post over the holiday as connection permits. Have a happy Turkey Day!
Almost literally, all I did yesterday other than work was catch The Last Samurai; a co-worker lent me the DVD, and I'd committed to return it today. (In exchange, I let him have Shogun Assassin.)
I enjoyed Last Samurai, and I think it represented well the values both of bushido -- the way of the warrior -- and of the refinement that polite Japanese society in general, and samurai in particular, were expected to cultivate. (There's a nice moment when Algren, Tom Cruise's character tracks his muddy boots onto the tatami mats of his host's home. It's an unspeakable breach of protocol, literally. No one mentions the offense, yet Algren realizes what he's done, and learns from the experience.) Given that the film revolves around the suppression of the samurai at the onset of the Meiji Restoration (the anime Rurouni Kenshin is set in the same period), it's ironic that the film celebrates the reverence for beauty, refinement and even poetry among the samurai, as such refined pursuits were encouraged at another time when the warriors' talents were feared, in a more-or-less successful attempt to channel their energies.
However, I can see why some Japanese audiences objected to the idea of a gaijin teaching the Meiji Emperor the meaning of bushido. And while the battle scenes are all well done -- and I especially appreciated the samurai training with wooden bokan as opposed to steel -- my steady diet of Japanese swordplay flicks (including the aforementioned Shogun Assassin, among others) led to some unrealized expectations. Sepcifically, when I see some dude get cut down with a katana, I have come to expect a geyser of brightly colored fake blood. While it's hardly surprising that the film followed Hollywood conventions, the difference was always noticable. (By contrast, Quentin Tarantino, no stranger to cinematic excess, didn't shy from duplicating the bloody effects of swordplay in Kill Bill.) On the other hand, while I found the scene in which the samurai lord Katsuhiro's village is attacked by Ten! Thousand!! Ninja!!! to be completely unbelievable, I was gleefully entertained.
I missed the Artest incident? What was I, out of town? Actually, yes; I spent Saturday in Louisville at the wedding of one of my very best friends, and then Sunday at work finishing up a report. (I obviously took the weekend off from blogging.)
Kim's wedding was a wonderful occasion. The Girls and I had a good time, and they were generally on their best behavior. I met some friends of Kim and her new husband Bryan; Cecilia and I watched some of the home team's 65-27 gridiron victory with Kim's dad, brother and sister, and caught up a little with Kim, whom I haven't seen in ages.
One of Kim's Chicago friends is Allison, with whom I discussed writing, publishing, and blogging. Her blog is wrestlingentropy, and it's on the blogoll as of today.
I'm far from an NBA fan, so I completely missed the fracas Friday that Professor Cooper refers to. Like him, I recommend sportsblogger Eric McErlain for a rundown on the fight and its aftermath.
That said, from reading accounts of the incident, the fight was inexcusable, and the players richly deserve the suspensions handed out. That the NBA acted so quickly in doing so is an encouraging sign that such thuggish behavior is not to be tolerated.