Thursday, July 22, 2021

Also Sprach Zarathustra


If Samuel L. Jackson had played the character Dave in the movie 2001, can you imagine how that conversation would have gone with Hal? 

I can hear that dialog, truly I can:

“I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do — ”

“Don’t tell me what you can’t fuckin’ do, mothefucker, I said, Open the goddamned motherfuckin’ door right fuckinnow or I will kick your motherfuckin’ ass to kingdom come! You hear me, you motherfuckin’ Play Station?!”

“Uh … opening the door now, Dave.”

‘You goddamned right about that!”

Monday, July 19, 2021

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

A comment on a FB thread about cherry-picking martial arts techniques brought this up.

People want to get a neato move they can plug into what they know, and while that is possible, it usually doesn’t work that way.

Handing you the steering wheel without the car isn’t useful if you need to drive somewhere.

Went to a seminar once that featured some world-class teachers offering SE Asian arts — mostly silat, some kali and escrima. Easy to see how similar these are when compared to, say, Japanese or African styles. 

Similar SE Asian roots, but not the same.

You have to go with an open mind, but the more training you have in a system, the harder it is to accept something that goes against your training.

Not that it is necessarily bad, but that it doesn’t mesh with what you know, you won’t be able to integrate it into what you have, even if you agree with its efficacy.

Teacher shows you a thing, It runs contrary to what you have, You won’t voice it, to be polite, but you will think it: Dude, if I try that against my guys, it will get me killed.

Maestro from this kali style shows you some stick stuff. Hold it like this, and swing it thus.


Done, moving on.

Next guy, from a different kali style arrives, and you step up with your stick. He looks at you as though you have turned into an upright pig. No, no, no! you don’t hold the stick *there!* Hold it this way!

Yes, Guro.

Third guy starts his session. And you know where this is going, right?

This is one reason why cherry-picking similar styles is a problem. The Maestro’s grip works because of the rest of what that style does; the Guro is doing something different, for which his grip is more appropriate. Third guy, same-same.

None of them is how your teacher offers it.

A style will have underlying laws, principles, and what you do adheres to these, else there is no consistent system. Not a question as to whether it is good or bad, but that there will be a more-efficient or less-efficient way to move, and the goal is more.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Good Company

These days, I frequently order things online, and recently I had such a pleasant experience I want to mention it.

I found some funky vitamins I wanted to try, sold by a company in Vancouver, B.C., Vivid Wellness.

They specialize in health and beauty products, alternative medicines, CBD, cannabis, tinctures, teas, extracts, that kinda stuff.

(Legal here; in some places, maybe not, I am not encouraging you to break local laws.)

So I ordered the capsules. Time passed, they didn’t show up when they were supposed to. Make a long story short, the post office got lost on the way to my house.

Sent an email to the company, and they were on it. Tracked the package, offered to refund my money, ship a replacement, and if somehow both packages showed up? I could keep them both.

Pleasant people, and they stayed on it, reshipped the stuff, and added in a little freebie and an apologetic note, which arrived shortly thereafter.

I ordered some other things, and they remembered who I was, and thanked me for giving them another chance, even though the problem had not been their fault.

I was delighted with their actions and attitude.  Not trying to sell you any particular thing here, just pointing out that my experience with these folks was as good as it gets. 

I hope they prosper, and in this day and age, such service and attention to detail is outright refreshing, so I expect they will do well based on that alone.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


My most serious gym-rat days were the year I turned forty. Had a decent home gym, free weights, multi-station machine, rower, stair-stepper, mini-trampoline. 

Logged in every set and rep.

Came to realize that a full-body workout every other day was over-training. Twice a week was the new reality.

I had an exercise I did on the chin/pull-up bar that worked my arms and lats pretty good — drop-rep sets.

Started with ten reps, palms facing away. Dismounted, went and did some leg stuff, returned to the bar, did nine reps. Went to do some upper body push-stuff, bench presses, back, eight reps.

And so on, until the last set, one rep. Over the course of thirty minutes or so, fifty-five total.

Haven’t done that in a while.

Lot of records in the pull-up, chin-up world. For instance, over a twenty-four-hour period, we are talking about 7600 reps. 

The record for the most pull-ups without dismounting from the bar is held by Jan KareŇ° (Czech Republic) who did 238 pull-ups in 34 minutes on 18 November 2017 in  Hergetova Cihelna, Czech Republic. Wide grip, bouncy, but still.

He was allowed to “rest” by hanging by one arm from time to time …

Female record for pull-ups in one minute? 

Thirty-four, held by a fitness model/trainer Rupa Kshatriya Hulet. Yeah, her form is maybe not the best, a wide-grip and bouncy, but thirty-four in a minute? 

On a good day, I might gut out a set of fourteen reps total, and the last couple would be a real strain and real slow …

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

La Musica, La Musica!


Heavy Movie Music

In discussing The Day the Earth Stood Still and Bernard Herrmann's wonderful orchestral theme, I was reminded of two other musical pieces that create vivid images for me.

The first is The Emperor's Ming's Theme, from the old Flash Gordon movie serial. It was from Franz Liszt's Les Preludes, and whenever Ming the Merciless showed up, the band cranked, particularly the last section.

I can hear it now.

And the other is, of course, Vader's Theme, sometimes called The Imperial March, by John Williams. I can't help but think he was trying to evoke the same sense of dark majesty.

Then, just to screw with your head, there are these:–V–vi–IV_progression

And the mash-up:

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Not So Right Stuff


Slept late, because the dream was so interesting I wanted to see where it was going.

Scientists somehow came up with what was essentially a magic number. If you used this number when you called somebody, the ensuing conversation would be perfectly clear, not just soundwise, but contentwise — there would be no misunderstanding. Both parties would get it, completely, total, perfect clarity. 

There was some worry that this might not be a good idea, because maybe you didn’t want that level of truth, but they did it anyhow.

Amazing enough in the context, but wait! there is more!

I was allowed to test it, and the scientists arranged a call for me — to George Harrison. Didn’t even have to use a device, merely thinking of the person you wanted to call did the trick.

Hey, George. How’s it going?

We had a fascinating conversation, George and I, despite the fact he has been dead for almost twenty years. None of which conversation I can recall in detail, but the connection was the incredible thing.

Then, I went and got a Cherry Slurpee, and was irritated that, because it was too liquid-y, I had to wait for it to freeze properly. I mean, I could talk to George Harrison, but the 7-Eleven couldn’t get the slurpee right?

Woke up from that to watch a billionaire play with his new toy, based on tried-and-true technology older than I am. Listened to CNN and CNBC’s announcers gush and bubble as if this was the most exciting new thing since the wheel.

Gosh, wow, gee! Holy science fiction, Batman!

I am a space wonk. I got up as a kid to watch the first NASA launches, Shepard, Glenn, the moon missions, and I was impressed then.

Dueling billionaires? A rocket glider?

Chuck Yeager broke the level-flight sound barrier in the Bell X-1, launched from a B-29, in 1947. That was, according to the wiki, the 50th flight of the little rocket plane.


50th flight.

New right stuff, Sir Billionaire Ricky? With the shameless self-promotion and commercial in your victory speech? Spaceport in the New Mexico desert. Without enough water to flush the toilets? Tarantulas ambling across the tarmac? Quarter million bucks for a ride, up and down, home for dinner and bragging rights?

What you do today, Rodney?

Oh, well, I flew into space, got my astronaut wings, then zipped home in the new Gulfstream. How’s the veal? Cook wanted to try a new recipe …

Not as impressed as I was watching Alan Shepard in 1961 as the first American in space, and him walking in the moon in 1971.

Oh, the magic number?


Your mileage may vary …

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Chop Socky

So, the martial art that I practice is usually referred to simply as “silat,” but it has a longer and more specific name:

Pukulan Pentjak Silat Sera Plinck.

While you might at first glance think this is something served with peanut sauce, each word has a different connection to what it is we mean when we point at it.

Let me break it down for you:

“Pukulan,” whose Malay/Indonesian root is almost certainly “pukul,” means “hit.” Word also can mean to “beat,” or  “beating.”

So for our purposes, Pukulan generally means striking, and more with a fist or something held in the hand.

In our system, the striking is connected to distance and footwork that will allow the blow to land. 

“Pentjak Silat” -- also spelled "pencak," with the "c" now taking the "tj" sound, for reasons having to do with Dutch colonialism and Indonesian nationalism -- is a fighting art from Southeast Asia, mostly Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Pentjak silat” means "the motions of fighting." And generally, are blade- and weapons-based.

“Pentjak” refers more to the form it takes, “silat,” to fighting per se. And it's a fairly new term. A hundred years ago, that wasn't what it was called. Just as Native Americans called themselves by their tribes -- Sioux, or Apache, for instance, and then subdivided those names into others -- Lakota or Chiricahua or Mescalero -- and there were no "Indians," thus did the Malaysians and Indonesians name their local arts.

Lot of them, too, every village had its own styles and teachers.

“Sera” (and in some branches, a “K” has been added to the end, “Serak,” but which ‘k’ is silent) refers to the creator of the art, reputedly one Bapak (an honorific) Sera, a word that has several meanings, depending on spelling and accent. It can mean "hoarse." It also means "owl," and thus "wise," and with the accent on the first syllable, it means to "confuse," or to "scatter confusion," and thus "to decoy" or "deceive." It is also a shade of red.

Pick one, nobody knows for sure. Or maybe they all apply: The creator was a wily, sneaky, tricky, hoarse, red-haired guy.

Sera came from West Java, and there are a lot of antecedent arts and incredible origin stories we’ll skip over for now.

There is much contention about the founder, his senior students, where the lineage went, and who learned what from whom, when, and where. That’s a long and unresolvable fight for another day.

Oral history is sometimes not worth the paper upon which it wasn’t written.

The final word in the title is “Plinck,” the family name of the Dutch-Indonesian-American senior teacher from whom I have learned what little I know of the system.

He didn’t ask for that inclusion; I took it upon myself to add it about a decade ago, to differentiate from branches of our art taught by other teachers.

There are similarities, but what we do isn’t what they do, and I didn’t want people looking at those teachers and thinking we are the same.

I also took it upon myself at the same time to add an honorific to the designation “Guru,” (which means “teacher,”) that being “Maha,” or “great.”

So, the name means, loosely interpreted: 

“The hitting, fighting, martial art from Indonesia created by Bapak Sera, as taught by (Maha Guru Stevan) Plinck.”

Just so you know.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men …?


A thread about this on a friend’s page. Rather than inflict it on his feed, I will offer a link here.

I can remember hearing The Shadow on the radio as a child, before we got a TV in the early 1950s, and I have fuzzy, but fond, memories of that.

Didn’t discover the books until twenty-years later, liked those, too.

My problems with the 1994 Baldwin Shadow movie were chiefly two: Looked good, but they didn’t play it straight, instead went for camp — all those winks at the audience killed it for me.

The second is personal, having to do with a time when I was collaborating on a comic book movie script that went into turnaround. The would-be director of that script had done a movie I loved, Highlander, but also did The Shadow. In a studio meeting, said director said something my collaborator and I thought so inane it lowered my opinion of him somewhat.

Collaborator and I looked at each other.

He didn‘t just say that, did he? Really?

Had the movie gone forward, I could foresee problems …


If ever I write my autobiography, what the director said will be the subtitle of the section on my adventures in LaLaLand.


Welcome to Hollywood, dudes …