Theatrical Tuesday – Sharknado 5 Review

TuesdaySeeing a movie such as Sharknado 5 when you missed Sharknado 2, 3, and 4, is quite a thing.

Despite how far-fetched the premise in the original movie was, it seemed at least somewhat plausible. There was at least water everywhere there were sharks.

Not in Sharknado 5.

Prepare for a lot of suspension of disbelief in this one.

EFFECTS

The effects were well done for the level of the movie.

ACTING

The main actress rarely changed her expression despite the situation. Perhaps a good samurai face, but not one for connecting with the audience. It was hard to tell if she even cared about her son.

WRITING

There were a lot of funny lines and the script met the expected level for a B-movie. There were some great groan-inducing puns. It did have me wonder if I should put obviously false information in my scripts or if they did that to connect back to the tagline “Make America Bait Again.” Regardless, it led me to fact check some things and I ended up learning something new about sharks because of it. It made fun of a lot of things and I enjoyed that aspect of it.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I enjoyed heckling the film with some close friends. If you’re looking for a silly movie, try this one out.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

 

Theatrical Tuesday – A Review of Liberty Stands Still

TuesdayI was almost an extra soccer fan in a thriller this week, but they decided they needed fewer extras. Ah well, I’m on the list in case something happens to any of the others. Maybe next time. I’m not sure today’s post would’ve been very different as films typically involve NDAs.

I’m going to start highlighting Canadian films and TV shows on this blog because there is a lack of marketing around them and I believe that is a major thing affecting our industry up here. Marketing is expensive and with much of the limited budget gone on making the films themselves, there isn’t much left to spread the word.

Liberty Stands Still is a 2002 thriller written and directed by Ottawa’s own, Kari Skogland. She is an award-winning, female, Canadian film director.

TAGLINE (from IMDB)

Liberty, the wife of a gun manufacturer, is held hostage at a hot dog stand by a sniper seeking revenge.

LEADING ACTORS

Wesley Snipes plays Joe the sniper who holds Liberty (Linda Fiorentino) hostage at a hot dog stand.

RECEPTION

This particular film wasn’t well received because it takes a hard stance on gun control to the point of being offensive to many gun owners. At least that’s the story from some critics. Bowling for Columbine came out the same year and was well received by Hollywood, earning an Oscar.

SOUND

One thing I noticed lacking was the soundtrack. Most of the time there was a dead air kind of sound perhaps like a phone where people have stopped talking, which sort of makes sense for the film, but doesn’t help people connect to the story.

It seemed like it was stock sound when there was any and US films often have great soundtracks because they encourage the audience to emotionally connect with the film and when you’re making such a strong statement, you need to work harder to connect with the audience. Here’s the soundtrack list for Bowling for Columbine. Interestingly, Bowling for Columbine’s budget was 7 Million less. I’m not sure if that’s because it was more of a documentary style, but they got a lot of decent songs for that price.

VISUALS

The film’s opening credits have an artistic flair to them.

The film has some bloody moments, but they are no where near the level of a Tarantino film, so I doubt that it really should be R-rated by today’s standards, but I suppose it’s similar in level of violence and such as other films that year.

There’s a lot of reusing of the same footage. There aren’t many stunning shots in between scenes chock full of dialogue.

The device holding Liberty’s lover hostage is neat.

WRITING

Having worked at a police station, I find it really odd that the police assume Liberty must be working with the sniper instead of being held hostage. Also, I can’t understand why it took so long to evacuate the theatre next to the bomb-laden hot dog cart. There’s a general lack of knowledge about police procedures. We had a mysterious bag and locked down the station so the public couldn’t enter the building while we searched for it.

I liked the twist near the end and the rest was decent.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

While there are some things that could be better on the writing end, I didn’t find the acting or the story lacking because of it. Something was flat and I believe it was the music. We have so many talented musicians in Canada and I think we could make better use of them. With a few well known artists and some up and comers, I think it could be much improved.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of the other films by this director.

Hope you liked my review.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Doctor Who’s Recent Casting Choice

TuesdayA lot of people are divided about the latest regeneration on Doctor Who. Some would have you believe that it’s nothing more than males being stupid, but I think jumping to that conclusion is wrong and it’s harmful to what the feminist movement was supposed to be about. I, like Camille Paglia, believe this male bashing crap has to stop. Feminism was supposed to be about equal treatment and rights like being able to vote and work in traditionally male jobs. It wasn’t about tearing men down, feminizing them, or declaring female superiority.

The Doctor shouldn’t be female just because ‘it’s time’. The Doctor should only be female if the actress blew them away at auditions. It should be about selecting the best candidate by demonstrated ability regardless of sex, race, or sexuality. The BBC has said they have done this.

I’m a fan of the show. My first Doctor was Tom Baker, though I was quite young and don’t remember those episodes clearly. I’ve seen many other arguments in many comments sections against the selection that have nothing to do with sexism. Many have been from women as well. Here are a couple of points:

1. Out of Character

For 50 years The Doctor has regenerated as male. One might assume the being has a preference and to suddenly change genders is out of character after 50 years. The fact that Missy was a thing doesn’t matter. The Master has always operated differently and assumes whatever form best fits whatever devious plans its brewing. Not so with The Doctor. He is also shown as male as a child, which could suggest that’s his natural state since birth.

2. Tradition

Some people balk at the idea of tradition, but others love it. Tradition has been broken and for some it might feel like the first Christmas after their father has died. But The Doctor has already been female. Given that was a comedy special, maybe it’s not really part of the canon?

3. Acting Ability

Several have suggested she is out of her league in this role. I haven’t seen her act, so I don’t know if this is accurate. Again, the BBC said she did an amazing job at the audition.

4. Loss of a Male Role Model

People really like to laugh at this one, but The Doctor is an important one since so many leading males in programs are rather brutish dicks. The Doctor shows males it’s cool to care about people and have feelings.

I don’t feel like I need The Doctor to change genders. There are plenty of other shows with strong female leads. And this move isn’t revolutionary. I watched Night of the Living Dead, which is quite old and the leads were a black male and a white woman. Mad Max Fury Road has another strong woman. Orphan Black, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and more all have strong female leads. Game of Thrones is chock full of strong females. Maybe I’d care more if I lived in Britain, but it’s not like it was stopping women and girls from cosplaying as The Doctor.

Yes, there is lore and history of other Time Lords switching things up. That’s one of the main arguments that it should have happened by now. Perhaps that is  one thing that gives more weight to that argument. In all of the posts I’ve read, I found this one to be the best on why we needed a female doctor. I’ve been that female subject matter expert in the room with all males who’d prefer me act as a secretary while they talk about the important things that are too complex for my tiny female brain to possibly understand.

A small group of people think it should have been a black transgender female. To which many have suggested to write a pilot for a Sci-Fi show with a black transgender female if you feel it’s important. That’s not really a far fetched idea. Hell, you could even take a page from BET and make your own television network. You could crowdfund it too.

On the change of race element, there are white Klingons if you want to look at other TV shows. I don’t know about the history of Gallifreyans having other races. So far they have only been depicted as white as I’ve seen. I’m not sure if there is canon somewhere to change that. But I suppose the writers decide what is canon and if they write it, it will become canon.

People love to highlight the “outrageous” comments by men, but I’ve seen plenty from men who have said they care far less about what genitals The Doctor has and far more about the acting ability and the writing on the show. They’ve said its purpose is entertainment, so it better continue to be entertaining. They were white males too.

To some degree, I don’t enjoy that The Doctor changes at all. Theoretically it’s awesome, but it took me about half a season to accept that David Tennant was gone. I still miss him. I liked Capaldi until the most recent season. Perhaps it’s the companion, Bill Potts. I mean, she could except that he has a time travel machine that is bigger on the inside and that he’s an alien, but couldn’t believe he has two hearts? Really?

Anyway, it will take a couple of episodes before I can tell if Jodie has potential and likely a few more for me to like her. People have been saying that if you can’t accept this change, you aren’t a true Whovian. Bullshit. True Whovians nearly always hate the new doctor until something awesome happens that convinces them the new actor is, “THE BEST DOCTOR EVER!”

And there are a bunch of people saying it really doesn’t matter since it’s a TV show. Entertainment can have wide impact on people though. If that wasn’t true, people wouldn’t still be mourning Alan Rickman or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain, Elvis, and many more.

Also, for thousands of years change meant death. That instinct is still in humans just like the instinct for cats to eat their dead owners. You might not like it and think it’s silly, but it’s part of who we are as a species. It’s why LEAN practitioners know to make very small changes in office environments.

There are a bunch of women against this change too. Yes, there are a ton of jerk males as well, but they aren’t the only people upset by the change. I even saw some LGBTQ+ folks saying the change was the wrong call to make. The world is a mosaic of views and when you decide to look at an issue like this and ignore all but one demographic that fits the crap you want to write about, you become part of the problem.

Did you know male suicide rates are higher than female rates? That was in Canada. The same is true in the US. The UK. Australia. Much of the rest of the world shows a similar 3.5 to 1 ratio, though some places have little to no suicide at all. Those are older stats, but interesting nonetheless.

If you don’t care about that fact, perhaps you need to work on your humanity.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that people are going to disagree on this thing and jumping to name calling won’t make anything better. Assuming one element tells the whole story is willful ignorance. Trying to see beyond the knee-jerk reaction and understand where others are coming from is what makes things better.

Get out into the world and interact with real people. Especially those that have differing view points. Echo chambers are sick places to live in. If you have to put others down for you to “progress”, maybe you’re not really as progressive as you think you are.

And no, I haven’t been brainwashed by the patriarchy. Most men simply aren’t evil. And a lot of them died so you could live to call them all assholes today.

The Doctor will be played by a woman for at least this season. We might not be sure of the choice yet, but many of us will come to love her anyway.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Orphan Black

TuesdayI started watching this show because it’s on the list of Aurora Award nominees. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The premise is complex, yet the casting is simple because one actress plays many roles. As a writer, we can see how many different ways we can go with a character, just from watching a couple of episodes. While it is science fiction, the science isn’t so complicated that it takes over the story. The story comes first and the technical details second. It is firstly a story about people and relationships in a strange situation.

With a cast full of strong female characters, it may not appeal to all viewers, but I like it. There’s the soccer mom who enjoys theatre, drugs, and the shooting range; a criminal; a cop; a religious zealot; a transgendered male; a science nerd; a woman who desperately wants to be a mother; and more.

Every time I think I know what’s really going on, they put a twist in.

The production value is decent. It errs on the side of showing less. This may relate to budget as Canadian television programs have to do more with less.

Shows like this may be particularly relevant in a political atmosphere continually focused on identity and what is right or wrong.

If you have time, check out this action-packed story.

Salut,
R~

Symphonic Saturday – Canada Day Music Review

Canada Day was special this year. It marked our sesquicentennial (150 years). As such, around the country there were concerts to celebrate and CBC live streamed parts from all of them. First it took us to a performance by The Trade Offs. Next up was the Arkells
in Victoria, BC. We traveled next to Moncton where Couer de Pirate entertained us. Then Buffy St Marie played. After her, there was a unique group with 2 East Indian male dancers, 1 female white violinist, 1 male singer, and 1 male drummer who played a drum that hung on a strap. If anyone knows who they are, please let me know.

We then heard some country performed by Brett Kissel. Alessia Cara played a song for us. We saw a medley that included Dean Brody and Louis Jean Cormier before Serena Ryder sang. Then the Arkells were back before Cirque du Soleil put on a show. Walk Off The Earth played a tune before Bruce Cockburn made me realize some of Barenaked Ladies’ songs are covers. Then Alessia Cara shocked us by having performed at one Canada Day concert before driving about 5 hours to the one in Ottawa.

What would Canada be without some Gordon Lightfoot? Followed by a band that performed La Bamba. I prefer the Ritchie Valens version. Several people, including myself, were surprised Deadmau5 was Canadian when they brought us to Halifax. Dean Brody performed again and then I saw Stephanie Bedard and Remi Brassie? in Montreal. Montreal looked to be the funnest place to watch from with an artistic  flair not seen elsewhere.

In the capital, people endured day long rain and intermittent storms. There were delays, but I haven’t heard anyone complain about anything other than the lineup.

I heard Alanis was performing and several other bands, but I didn’t see them. I’m not sure if they were in the live stream, because I was tired and switched to the fireworks stream when they were finally available.

I happily watched from the comfort of my home where it was dry and crowd-free.

Some didn’t love the diverse elements, but I thought they were neat. I also liked seeing places like Vancouver because they looked different than here. Anyway, if you’re looking for some new music, maybe one of the artists above can help you.

Salut,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Game of Thrones

TuesdayOver the past couple of years, there has been some negativity following this show because of the sexual assault scenes depicted. Among my author peers, I have an unfavourable opinion when it comes to this. I think the scenes were indeed horrible, but depicting them was the right thing to do.

Why do I feel this way? Well, largely for the same reasons that the actress herself feels: “The more we talk about sexual assault the better, and screw the people who are saying we shouldn’t be putting this on TV and screw the people who are saying they’re going to boycott the show because of it,” she said.

Think about how much discussion on this subject has happened since.

Yes, we’re still struggling to get rapists appropriately punished, but discussing the subject and showing how horrible it is help people see why it’s wrong and bring us closer to appropriate punishments. Not everyone can simply intuit things. Not every person has parents that are actively involved in teaching them right from wrong, but they can get that marriage is supposed to be based on love and there’s no question that what Sansa experienced was not love.

Moreover, this reached people who don’t even watch the show. I’m speculating, but it’s possible that whoever caught Brock Turner in the act was more equipped to know when they were seeing something that wasn’t consensual because it was on their minds having heard about this episode online or at school. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Brock’s father was like Lucius Malfoy and advised Brock to get some action whenever he could. Not that I’m in anyway excusing Brock for his actions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has had a life rather like Draco in Harry Potter.

Regardless, only when highlighted and brought into the open can a festering wound be healed and Hollywood has the power to influence more than any other industry.

Sansa Stark has been through a lot of crap. She began as a shallow girl who cared about nothing more than marrying a prince. She got her wish. She was sent off with Joffrey, who was a whiny and emotionally abusive shithead among other things. Then she was given to Tyrion. When Sansa was married to Tyrion, they also showed what respectful treatment of someone who doesn’t want to have sex can look like and he cared enough to get her away from King’s Landing. She had more bad crap happen to her and it gave her agency. She rose like a queen and handled her rapist by turning one of his favourite tools against him and ensuring he couldn’t hurt anyone else ever again.

Anyway, it’s ludicrous to think that a novel series set where and when this one is wouldn’t have true evils that were prevalent to the point of being acceptable in human history. If we’ve paid attention though, the public outcry shows that this behaviour is far from acceptable today. Maybe someday we won’t need to discuss it because the problem will be resolved, but we haven’t got there yet. There are still judges making bad calls and the rare female who lies and both things are detrimental to the legal side of this issue.

 

Something that causes a disturbance in North America may not rate as newsworthy on another continent and I think everyone should be aware of that. Your fire is not someone else’s fire. Your methods of living are not someone else’s and trying to force them to live in a way that appeases you isn’t right. We don’t live in a dictatorship. Everyone has free will and a different story to tell for reasons you might not understand.

As a writer, I can choose to pretend it’s not happening or I can choose to discuss it. How I discuss it is debatable, but simply preaching leads to people feeling ostracized rather than allowed to talk about an issue. That creates festering wounds.

I personally prefer not to fully show such scenes in my work, but if it’s a necessary story element, I want to get as close as possible so there’s no doubt what is happening. Some things shouldn’t be explained through metaphor. If you’re looking for an author who plays it safe, you won’t like my work whether it’s in film or novel format. I never was the kid who cared about fitting in.

And Game of Thrones has so many wonderful things going for it. The acting, CGI, and musical score are some of the highest quality out there. The fight scenes are also excellent. The writing is too. There are many strong female characters in the show as well. I look forward to its return later this month.

Salut,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – The Book of Five Rings pt 2

sword

Image created using Bitmoji

Today, I’m continuing my examination of The Book of Five Rings, which is known by many martial artists, but has implications for all areas of life. In case you missed the first part, I’ve linked it below.

I: Earth

II: Water

The second part of the Book of Five Rings is titled “Water”. Musashi talks about being the same person in all endeavors. He advises that we should be able to peacefully acknowledge all things without letting them distract us from what should be at the center of our focus. We should be able to maintain a state in between relaxation and alertness at all times. It’s like he’s saying we shouldn’t be locked in fight mode, but we shouldn’t be so relaxed that we are unprepared for a fight.

How might that translate in the day-to-day life of an office worker? Always be looking at what other job opportunities are out there and continually learn new skills even if you love your job. This means you will have no trouble if the company suddenly goes bankrupt or your division gets down-sized. I learned this lesson the hard way.

In your love life, this suggests to me that you never get lazy. Always show your appreciation for your partner because you both deserve someone who puts the effort in that strong, healthy relationships require. Always be willing to talk about anything that may come up, but never assume your partner won’t get upset. At the same time, sometimes tears and anger do more for strengthening a relationship. Don’t ignore things that are annoying you, but don’t nitpick either.

Musashi considers water to be the foundation of his Two-Heavens style. He says it’s important to be aware of the body of the big man and the small man. We should always be aware of the good and bad in all things, but don’t let them distract you from completing your objective. He again recommends studying the arts and even when in the midst of a hectic battle, you must keep your mind calm. Battle in today’s world could be applied to the political climate.

Observation is strong, seeing is weak, he says. I think what he means is that observing something takes your full attention and seeing doesn’t necessarily. When you observe something, it is a process of active learning. Seeing is passive. If you have observed, you will be able to predict your enemy’s attacks even if they’re hiding their sword. If you only see, you wait until you see the sword and by then it will be too late. He says we must see both sides simultaneously. He recognizes this is hard when thrown into chaos, but the master does not change their eyes under any circumstances. If you cannot see beyond your side’s position, you are not objective and we must be in order to make the best decisions.

Musashi then talks about Niten strategy and says to leave your sword where it is after you miss. He advises waiting for the opponent to make their next move before you do anything else. At other times he advises to deliberately open yourself up to attack and let your opponent think they have an advantage.

Musashi advises to practice these things daily. He also frequently says we need to investigate everything thoroughly.

Then comes the story of the warrior Musashi can tell is different than the others. The man sleeps with a sword suspended above his bed with the tip aimed at his head to never forget the fine line between life and death. When you keep that as a focus, you know what to spend your energy on and what is just noise. But living this way attracts praise from those in power and envy from your peers. It takes much courage to endure the lies that spread so easily. Torture may come in the form of a false arrest, job loss, denial of funding grants, and more.

Put all of this into action and you will be better today than you were yesterday. Musashi says to practice for 1000 days and refine with 10,000 days of training. Practice is learning the dance steps and training is knowing how to apply them in different situations. For fun, I calculated how many days there are in 80 years. It came out to 29,200. This means that anything that you want to excel at will take many years and much of your life. No one is guaranteed any days. Be careful what you choose to spend your time on. It’s too valuable to waste.

Salut,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Rise of the Animals

TuesdayAt B-Movie Club this weekend, we watched “Rise of the Animals”. No, not the David Attenborough special. The Chris Wojcik masterpiece where even vegetarian animals craved human flesh.

Director: Chris Wojcik
Writer: Chris Wojcik
Film Studio: Whacked-Out Entertainment
Budget: $7000 (estimated)
Gross: Unknown
IMDB Rating: 3.7/10

Rise-of-the-Animals-2011-Movie-1

Synopsis: In a world where animals have turned on humanity, a teen travels across the country in search of the girl of his dreams.

*** Spoilers ahead ***

Premise

Our hero Max, played by Greg Hoople, has one last pizza delivery to make before making it to a movie with his buddy (Adam Schonberg). Trouble is, it’s in the bush at some cabin and they’ll be slightly late to the movie. After some difficulty they reach the cabin and by then there’s no way to make the movie, but the wary travelers are in luck as this cabin holds a plethora of drunken teen girls. Max’s longtime crush is visiting from Canada and they hookup despite her having a boyfriend. Max, not knowing that tidbit, tries to be chivalrous and return her phone to her while dealing with killer animals.

Max

Max, before the SHTF.

Writing

There were a lot of things that didn’t make sense in the story like why a girl would leave her phone in the back of a car with a voicemail on it for the guy she cheated with. From a writing perspective there were some overly convenient things that happened like suddenly stumbling on a canoe when they happened to need a boat, but the way it is executed makes it OK. There were a lot of good lines and funny things that happened that kept us laughing. Max learns good lessons and I like the way it ended.

Continuity

The film had trouble with continuity. The pizza boy was wearing a white shirt under his blue short-sleeved dress shirt until he opened his dress shirt and suddenly there was just hairy chest and a thin gold chain. Later, a girl at the cabin party lost her hand to a puppet deer. There was arterial spurt. A while later, a hand was cut off by a regular car window and there was no arterial spurt. Early on in the movie there was a lot of blood, but later there was almost no gore. All the animals are affected by some unknown thing causing them to attack humans, so it’s odd that humans aren’t affected when a dark-haired CGI gorilla shows up out of nowhere also super pissed off.

Effects

Bad taxidermy puppets, early 2000s CGI, fake blood, manikins, and explosions come together in this harrowing tale that is unlikely to scare. The sound effects rarely match the creatures emitting them, but that’s part of the fun of B-movies as any enthusiast knows.

Favourite Parts

My favourite part happens around 38:30 when Stephanie Motta was supposed to be peeing in the woods. Oh, and the romantic mushroom cloud moment is good too. I also felt nostalgia at the CGI creatures because they reminded me of my old Dark Age of Camelot player days during college.

Conclusion

It’s a fun movie to heckle with friends. The gore is on the fake side and not stomach churning, so unless you’re extra sensitive to the sight of fake blood, you should be able to get through this one. It could also lend itself well to B-Movie Bingo. It’s also barely over an hour long, so it’s a quickie if you’re strapped for time and want a laugh or two. Actually, you’ll probably have more than that.

Warrior Wednesday – The Book of Five Rings pt 1

sword

Image created using Bitmoji

Today, I want to talk about the Go Rin No Sho or The Book of Five Rings. I want to focus on the first portion. The copy I’m currently using is the graphic novel version by Sean Michael Wilson and Chie Kutsuwada. It’s important to note that there are many versions of this book worldwide and so many interpretations. I’m going to talk about what it means to me at this current juncture in my life and where I am at in my martial arts training. I fully expect to revisit this post and study different versions of the book many times in the future.

I: Earth

There are many ways to do anything in the world whether it is the practice of salvation through participation in a religion, the honing of a skill such as sword making or making clothing, medicating oneself against physical or mental disease, and training for sport, theatre, or combat. Whatever you learn in anything you do can be applied to other seemingly unrelated situations.

Miyamoto Musashi is purported to have said, “There are many people who, even when studying the Way of the Martial Arts, think that these skills will not be useful in real situations. In fact, the true Way of the Martial Arts is to train so that these skills are useful at any time and to teach these skills so that they will be useful in all things.”

Back in my roller derby days, I was quick to learn how to use my toe stops and my balance was decent for a beginner. It took awhile before people figured out how to take me off my skates. The reason was, in part, because of my training in stances and running around a dojo with my weight balanced in such a way that I could move and change direction easily. In karate, we rarely put our weight on our heels and kept it on the balls of our feet. This was something I just naturally did when I put skates on.

When I’m driving my car, I often know when someone is likely to change lanes even if they are not signalling nor edging towards the line. I’m not psychic. I’ve been trained to look for cues, but also I pay attention regularly to what others do all along the highway. In certain locations people often change lanes more than in other spots. In martial arts, we call this Zanshin. It is the awareness of your surroundings, the people in it, and the possibilities that relate to a given situation. It is the ability to be in a state of alertness while being calm. Many parents of young children do this.

Paying attention is also extremely helpful as a writer. Not only do we observe others, but we eavesdrop and we pay attention to our feelings. Every situation can give us what we one day need in order to write a scene in a book or movie script. When we see eyes that are such a brilliant shade of blue that it reminds us of the ocean, we want to write a colour down that depicts that rather than simply saying blue. Maybe that character isn’t the protagonist or antagonist, but in order to fully flesh out all your characters, they can have something about them that is strikingly beautiful. Just because they are less important, doesn’t mean they don’t impact the story. The secondary helper often does things that are necessary to put the protagonist on the path. Gandalf sticks out like a sore thumb, yet it is the hobbits that are the focal point of The Lord of the Rings.

In the chapter on Earth, Musashi talks about the early beginnings of his martial arts journey. How he won a match at age 13 simply because the opponent didn’t take him seriously. If the dates are correct, this first battle would have happened around 1597, just six years before Japan’s Edo period began where peace time became the focus. Musashi is said to have continued to duel others until he was 28 or 29 and have defeated 60 men in that time. Whether or not they all lost their lives is a subject of debate for some.

He didn’t believe his wins had anything to do with having extraordinary skill in the martial arts, but that perhaps he either had a natural talent or other styles were lacking. It says he began writing the book on the 10th day of the 10th month during his 50th year just after the hour of the tiger. That should mean he began writing the Go Rin No Sho on October 10, 1634 around 4:30 a.m. assuming that Japan didn’t have a different calendar during that time period such as a 13-month pagan calendar which could skew the dates.

Six years later he began teaching martial arts with the support of Lord Tadoshi. He spoke of the increasing specialization in the martial arts as something that exalted one technique and damned another when the two worked best together. We talk about this concept at my dojo. Sensei has often said that you need techniques from all of them because different situations and distances require different techniques. If I’m a swordsperson and I’m in too close to fully draw my blade, I better have other options to win the fight when my back is against a wall and I can’t back up to create the space I need.

And when our backs are metaphorically against the wall in life, we need to figure out how to get money for a venture or how to avoid starving to death when we become jobless. When automation takes away most jobs, we will need to be ready with another option in order to continue to survive.

Musashi talks about there being only four types of jobs. There are warriors or military personnel, farmers and other food services, artisans or builders, and merchants. The world has changed as new jobs have been created since his time, but those same professions are going strong. He also didn’t mention sex workers like geisha and prostitutes, but I suppose they could be considered merchants in a way.

He talks about farmers having to pay extra attention to the changing seasons, sake merchants having to try different ways of making sake, and warriors having to be skilled in many different types of combat and many different types of weapons.

He then goes on to say that the artisans combine the methods from all three and seek to do the best at all times. He says this is the way of martial arts. To become great, one must practice without end. I infer this to mean that one must always be a student.

Musashi says, “It is truly difficult to grasp the Way by swordmanship alone. By knowing the large, you know the small; and from the shallow, you reach the deep.”

He then goes on to talk about Niten Ichi-Ryu, his famed two-sword style. He says that when you put your life on the line, you want every weapon you have to be of use. As he stated above, this can mean far more than literal weapons. It can mean every skill you know.

Years ago, I took social work in college. As part of our diploma, we took certification in Applied Suicide Intervention. We didn’t simply use the knowledge gained in our interviewing course to talk someone down off a ledge. We had to draw on everything we learned about social welfare, sociology, psychology, and our own ability to empathize.

Every weapon has advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation.

Musashi goes on to say that the sword is the foundation upon which the martial arts is based. By learning the Way of the sword, you learn the virtues that put yourself and society in order. He also says that in learning the Way of the sword, you will be able to understand the ways of others. I take this to mean that in learning martial arts, you will broaden your mind and enhance your worldview. I find this to be true, but only if you allow it. He goes on to say that both success and failure have their own rhythms and you must discriminate thoroughly between them. Then you must not show it outwardly lest your opponent defeat you. He then lays out his rules:

1. Think without dishonesty.
2. Forge yourself in the Way.
3. Touch upon all of the arts.
4. Know the ways of all occupations.
5. Know the advantages and disadvantages of everything.
6. Develop a discerning eye in all matters.
7. Understand what cannot be seen by the eye.
8. Pay attention to even small things.
9. Do not involve yourself with the impractical.

Successful business people say similar things. They say they’re always learning. They follow their passions and their gut. They do cost/benefit analysis. They don’t let their competitors know what they are up to. They guard their free time.

I feel like rule 8 and rule 9 complement each other. Without rule 9, one might get lost in the weeds and forget the purpose of whatever exercise they are undertaking. Small things like commas can be important, but if you’re on your first draft it is likely many of the words will change, so it doesn’t make sense to stress about them until your book is about to go to print. If you spend too much time on them in the early stages, you might never finish writing the story.

Salut,
R~

If you’re ready for more of the Go Rin No Sho check out the other parts linked below.
II: Water
III: Fire (coming soon)
IV: Wind (coming soon)
V: Emptiness (coming soon)