The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #339: The 5 Elements, The Water Tiger, and a Reading from Empty Hands

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #339: The 5 Elements, The Water Tiger, and a Reading from Empty Hands

https://archive.org/download/podcast-339/Podcast%20339.mp3

Since it recently became the year of the water tiger (per the Chinese version of the lunar calendar), I thought for this week’s show, it might be interesting to look at some of the philosophical underpinnings behind the elemental alignments the characters in The Thirteenth Hour martial arts novella, Empty Hands, have (Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Void).

The original inspiration was Japanese esoteric Buddhism and the martial arts that use that system as a way of figuratively describing different kinds energy.   You’ll find more about this in epsiode 151 on the godai and in texts like The Book of Five Rings.

There is also a separate, very similar system tracing back to ancient Chinese astronomy using slightly different elements (Earth 🌎 土, wood 🪵 木, fire 🔥 火, metal ⚔️ 金, and water 💦 水), widely used in things like traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts.  Those five elements are paired with the twelve zodiac signs to make 60 different signs, this year’s water tiger sign being one.  Since these ideas spread through a lot of Asia, you see them in cultures beyond China.  In that way, they looped back to Japan.

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There, these ideas became the gogyo (五行 – “five phases”).  In the episode, I read a section on this topic from Stephen K Hayes’ Mystic Arts of the Ninja (the two graphics above are from that book) as well as a section from Empty Hands, which was inspired by both this and the godai system in creating elemental alignments for the characters as a way of encapsulating their personalities (and in a way, making their easier to write!)

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #289: Knowing Yourself, Ukemi, Relaxing into Existential Angst, and Deep Breathing with A Thirteenth Hour Reading

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #289: Knowing Yourself, Ukemi, Relaxing into Existential Angst, and Deep Breathing with A Thirteenth Hour Reading

This week’s episode comes at a time of increasing national and global anxiety about the future, and as inhabitants on this rock orbiting a star on the edge of the Milky Way, we’re subject to the milieu of the environment, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of angst in the soup.  And as anyone who’s ever had a muscle cramp can attest, the way around a cramp is not with more tension, it’s relaxing into it – leaning in to the pain.  In this episode, I talk about the concept of the “receiving body” (ukemi in Japanese, though usually translated as “breakfall”).  If we meet the impact of a blow or a fall head on, we play a game of structural strength with the opposing force.  When you play that game with the ground, you always lose (unless you are Chuck Norris, of course).  Just as a good training partner (uke, a.k.a. “receiver”) is able to flow with an attacker and ride off (or simulate) the impact of an attack so his partner can learn how the body moves and responds, doing a good ukemi means never making a dead landing.  It means rolling with the force of the fall as best you can.  The ability to relax the body in such situations is counter-intuitive, since the natural instinct is to brace for impact, but remember, the ground always wins in a game of strength. 

Ukemi is not limited to the physical, though.  We are always receiving bodies of the slings and arrows that life throws at us.  There, too, the ability to relax is counter-intuitive.  Thankfully, as with breakfalls, the ability to relax into potential pain can be taught and practiced.  We all have the ability within ourselves.  In this episode, I talk about one of the simplest (though I didn’t say easiest), most natural (again, natural does not mean intuitive) things we all know how to do – breathing.  It does take a bit of practice to do it in a way that slows things down to a more manageable pace, but the good news is that once you know how to do it, you can practice deep, slow breathing almost anywhere, anytime, and it doesn’t have to be during a time of official “meditation” (I did it the other day in a dentist’s chair).  

If the music playing during the breathing segment sounds familiar, it’s because it’s similar to the intro podcast music.  It’s a slow reworking of The Thirteenth Hour theme.  For Patreon supporters, watch for an exclusive podcast episode on it sometimes this week as well as a longer stretch to accompany the breathing exercise.  I’ll make an accompanying video soon as well.

Speaking of music, the song “Many Miles” debuts tomorrow.  It ended up taking 6 years, but I’m glad with how it ended up turning out! 

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CLXNZk_Bz2T/?igshid=enga3ubaar16

And, as mentioned last episode, the patches I mentioned a few weeks ago are now ready and available for purchase here!  They come with a high quality mp3 download from Once Upon a Dream, the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack LP.

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If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world!  SALE!  While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette!  Just $1/tape!
https://ko-fi.com/s/5579db9b27

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #288: Fight Scene Analysis with Jeremy from Whistlekick – Brandon Lee vs. Dolph Lundgren in Showdown in Little Tokyo

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #288: Fight Scene Analysis with Jeremy from Whistlekick – Brandon Lee vs. Dolph Lundgren in Showdown in Little Tokyo

This week’s episode is the third in a series about Brandon Lee (episode 286 on Laser Mission for Brandon Lee’s birthday and episode 287 on Legacy of Rage).  Today, I am working with frequent collaborator Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick to discuss another fight scene, this time from one of my favorite films (and a guilty pleasure), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), just in time to ring in the year of the ox. The scene we’re watching is where Brandon Lee and Dolph Lundgren officially meet on screen, and naturally it ends up as a fight, though not without justification.  This is one of those scenes that is so wildly implausible, you can’t help but smile (totaly fits with the tenor of the film, though), and today, you can watch it with is in 1/4 time.  As before, please check out Jeremy’s version of the show as well on Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio (episode 587, coming in a few weeks), since it has a video portion as well, so instead of just listening to the clip, you can actually watch it with us commenting on it.  But, for now, if you want to follow along, choose the playback speed in the lower right corner (the gear) to 0.25, and you can follow along with the comments.  We start the clip below at 0:46.

 

If you haven’t seen this film, there are a ton of familiar faces if you were ever into action movies of this time and a great Hollywood screen debut for Brandon Lee, who provides a great counterpoint to Dolph Lungren’s stolid modern samurai personality. 

And, as mentioned last episode, the patches I mentioned a few weeks ago are now ready and available for purchase here!  They come with a high quality mp3 download from Once Upon a Dream, the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack LP.

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If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world!  SALE!  While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette!  Just $1/tape!
https://ko-fi.com/s/5579db9b27

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #287: Watching Legacy of Rage from 1986 – Brandon Lee’s First Lead Role

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #287: Watching Legacy of Rage from 1986 – Brandon Lee’s First Lead Role

This week’s episode is kind of a continuation of last week’s episode for Brandon Lee’s 56th birthday.   I am watching the first film Brandon Lee starred in, the 1986 Hong Kong production, Legacy of Rage, one of the early heroic bloodshed films (John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow is better known but came out the same year and is usually the one typically credited with being one of the influential films that sparked that genre; however, Legacy of Rage has a lot of the same elements).   I never saw this film before but am glad I finally found it.  Although there is not a ton of pure martial arts action in it (see below for a little cameo with Bolo Yeung), what scenes there are give Brandon Lee a chance to shine not only through showing his martial prowess but also in terms of creating his character, an earnest, somewhat naive everyman who is wrongly accused of murder by a double crossing friend and loses not only eight years of his life in prison but also his livelihood and fiancee.  If it sounds like The Count of Monte Cristo, it kind of is, if, of course, the Count had access to an arsenal befitting a small army, courtesy of his prison buddy, a gun runner played by Mang Hoi, who is frequently found in Hong Kong action and kung fu films.

In the clip above, Brandon Lee and costar Mang Hoi arm up and deliver some large caliber justice, sometimes while driving, sometimes while diving over tables, one gun in each hand. Although that style would later become associated with this genre of Hong Kong films, this is a solid early example of why. 

You can listen to Brandon’s thoughts on this style of Hong Kong action film here (about 9:20 into the interview):

You can also watch the full film free on Daily Motion.

Stay tuned for more Brandon Lee in time for lunar new year!

And, as mentioned last episode, the patches I mentioned a few weeks ago are now ready and available for purchase here!  They come with a high quality mp3 download from Once Upon a Dream, the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack LP.

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If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world!  SALE!  While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette!  Just $1/tape!
https://ko-fi.com/s/5579db9b27

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9c855cfe-2bcf-4f9b-9681-898d80b49e9a

There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #286: Rewatching Laser Mission (1989, a.k.a. Soldier of Fortune) + Remembering Brandon Lee

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #286: Rewatching Laser Mission (1989, a.k.a. Soldier of Fortune) + Remembering Brandon Lee

This week’s episode will be released on 2/1/21, an interesting number pattern date by itself, but it also would have been Brandon Lee’s 56th birthday.  As I discuss in the episode, my first exposure to Brandon Lee had nothing to do with movies.  It didn’t even really have anything to do with martial arts.

No, my first exposure to Brandon Lee was occasional childhood details I remember my mother telling me – of Bruce Lee and that he’d had a son who was also of mixed Caucasian – Asian ancestry.  That may not seem like a big deal now (and to be honest, it really shouldn’t have been then, either), but until my brother was born when I was eight, I don’t recall meeting anyone else with a similar racial mix.  I might have, of course.  Memory is faulty that way, but I can’t remember anyone else in my grade school classes, in Little League, or any of the other things I did as a kid.  And aside from my brother, it probably wasn’t until maybe high school that I met one or two folks with similar backgrounds. 

Although we still have our fair share of racial issues today in the US, I get the sense that things were more rigid in the 80s, and as an adult, it’s not hard to spot the entrenched racial stereotypes and issues in a lot of the films of the time, even in some of my favorites.   That doesn’t make me like them any less for what they meant to me as a child, but they are what they are.   That said, we still live in a fairly unilateral world when it comes to racial identity, and sometimes I think it makes people a bit unsettled when you don’t pick a side. 

Sometimes my mother would tell me that Brandon Lee also struggled to reconcile both Eastern and Western parts of his identity, but looking back, I was never sure how she knew that (Chinese newspapers, I think) or if that was even accurate.  Regardless, that’s how I was introduced to Brandon as a kid – not though movies, not through kung fu, not even so much as the son of Bruce Lee, but as an older sort of kinship soul. 

I was straddling the fence between East and West in my own little way as a grade school kid growing up in a largely working-class New Jersey suburb made up of families of Irish and Italian descent that did strange things like go to Sunday school and visit Ocean City in the summer.  The teasing, the comments about hot Chinese food lunches my mother sometimes packed that were labeled “weird” since they weren’t sandwiches in those little brown (supposedly disposable) paper bags, the wide eyes and frowns of disbelief if I mentioned I went to a school on Sunday (for a time, my father took me to a Chinese language school about a half an hour away in hopes I would learn something), the internal debate about which racial demographic should I check on standardized tests … all these things registered, but I was too young to really make much of them.  In a way, that’s the great thing about being a kid.  Things happen to you, sometimes good things, sometimes bad things, but you don’t really understand them as fully as you will later, so you just move on.  However, even if the adolescent and adult questions of identity were still years away for me, I think in her own way, telling me about Brandon was my mother’s way of preparing me for them.  “See, there’s someone else out there that’s like you” was what I think what she was trying to say, and I’m glad she thought to do it. 

Oddly enough, even when I started practicing martial arts at age 13, it was through the occasional newspaper article or martial arts magazine that I read about Brandon, not through movies or video clips (there was no internet, we didn’t have any of his movies; everything is harder to find as a kid without a bank account, driver’s license, or credit card).  I’ve attached scans two articles from the 9/1994 issue of Black Belt magazine here – one is a reprint of an interview of his from 1986, and the other is about his films.  There was awhile when this issue was the only martial arts magazine I had, so I used the read the same articles over and over again.   Aside from eBay, finding these old magazine articles is not especially easy.  They deserve to be out there.  You can download the articles here or clicking the cover below.

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I don’t know he’d have been especially proud of today’s choice of movie or not, but Laser Mission from 1989 (sometimes titled Soldier of Fortune) is pure gold in so many respects.  Critics probably panned it, and it gets like a 3 point something on IMBD, but what do any of those people know?

One look at this photo of Brandon Lee kicking this chap with two feet …

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… or the introductory theme song, done by David Knopfler of the Dire Straits, entitled “Mercenary Man” (which basically plays every time an amped up cue is required) is all I needed to know this film was destined for 80s movie greatness.  So, as a bona fide 80s US action film, you have to remember a few things – it will be loud, there will be explosions, plot holes large enough to throw a donkey through, unlimited ammunition, unlimited lives, gratuitous T ‘n A, overall misogynistic attitudes towards women, lasers involved, communists on every corner, and yes, an overall feeling at the end that the world was made safe for truth, justice, and Capitalism through guns, guts, and some good ‘ol asskicking, not bumbling bureaucrats shuffling papers and rubbing stamping documents that no one knows how to fill out correctly.  However, there are enough subtle jabs at these stereotypes inserted into the film (either consciously or not) that suggests it was done in a self referential, humorous way that pokes fun more than perpetuates old tropes.  You can watch the full film free on Youtube (thanks, kind souls) or Tubi (more legit but ad supported).

Shannon Lee maintains the social media platforms for the family, including an Instagram profile for Brandon.  She also does a regular podcast (highly recommended) about her father’s teachings and how his philosophy applies to aspects of day to day life.  Check out this past episode about Brandon.

Stay tuned for more Brandon Lee in time for lunar new year in a few weeks!

And, as mentioned last episode, the patches I mentioned a few weeks ago are now ready and available for purchase here!  They come with a high quality mp3 download from Once Upon a Dream, the next Thirteenth Hour soundtrack LP.

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If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world!  SALE!  While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette!  Just $1/tape!
https://ko-fi.com/s/5579db9b27

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #255: Welcome Bboy / MC / Professor Raphael Xavier!

Episode #255: Welcome Bboy / MC / Professor Raphael Xavier!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-255/Podcast%20255.mp3

On this week’s show, I’m pleased to welcome Raphael Xavier, a breakdancer and emcee who got his start in 1983 and has been around to see these aspects of hip hop come, go, return, and evolve over the past 30+ years.

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He is also a professor at Princeton University, where he teaches a history of hip hop class as well as one that provides an introduction to breaking.  My co-host today is not only my friend but former roommate, training partner, and fellow breaker / Princeton alum, Justin Liang (last on the show on episodes 47 and 48).  We were both blown away that not only is hip hop being taught at our former alma mater, there are actual classes on how to break.  ABSOLUTELY MIND BLOWING.

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We covered so many topics in this conversation, including a lot of things that, while not part of dance, are important life skills to keep in mind for creative people – transforming pain into insight and then power, not giving up, having a direction in life as well as daily practice, how the creative process changes over time and with age, the past and future of the dance, and – for all the high school and college graduates who didn’t get a keynote speaker at a formal ceremony speech this spring – there’s even one in this interview for you.

Check out the following links for info:

-Agency Website: https://www.pentacle.org/blog/artist/raphael-xavier/

-Benefit Performance (1/30/20, about 33 min into the clip): https://vimeo.com/388609182

-Ignite Philly talk on breaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRbibaOxAW4

-A Conversation with Urban Artistry (5/30/20 – thanks to my friend, breaking professor, and bboy Taylor Lomba) for posting this clip): https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=541382093407459&id=493753445299&_rdr
-Find Raph on IG and Facebook
-By the way, the clip we were discussing at ~2:05:00 you can watch below on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BN3GwSZgNg7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Thanks, Raph, for joining Justin and me for this interview!

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #247 – Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on the Ladder Fight from Jackie Chan’s First Strike and Like a Hood Ornament 7 – Cliff Fights a Giant and Survives!

Episode #247 – Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on the Ladder Fight from Jackie Chan’s First Strike and Like a Hood Ornament 7 – Cliff Fights a Giant and Survives!

https://archive.org/download/podcast-247/Podcast%20247.mp3

This week, Jeremy Lesniak from whistlekick.com rejoins the show as we do another fight scene analysis of the famous ladder scene from the film, First Strike.  You can listen to a similar version of this episode on Jeremy’s show as episode 497.

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It’s a great example of the use of everyday items that can be used as weapons of self defense.  There’s a little scene in The Thirteenth Hour interlude, Empty Hands, that discusses this very idea:

After we’d finished for the day, I eyed the wall of weapons.  Frankly, I wasn’t especially attached to any of them.  Not the way Aron was to the sickles or Lance to the sword.  In fact, the idea of cleaving someone open with a bladed weapon and seeing their tortured expression was nauseating.  I’d grown up around bows, since they were tools to put meat on the table, and while the Army ones were nicer and more powerful than the rough ones people in my village had used, I didn’t think of them much differently than, say, rakes or fishing poles.  The only one I’d taken any interest in was the sling, and that was only really because in order to use it, we had to go hunting for smooth stones to use as ammunition.  The stones reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes as a child – skipping rocks over the water – though my accuracy was so horrendous that I might as well have thrown the damn things. 

The only weapons exercise I actually enjoyed didn’t even involve weapons in the traditional sense.  It was a weekly session jointly taught with the wizards where we were given random objects from daily life, like umbrellas, gardening rakes, toothbrushes, and in one case, potted plants.  We then had to defend ourselves from a partner coming at us with a haymaker or an overhand sword strike (supposedly the two most common attacks we would be facing).  You could use whatever orthodox unarmed or magical techniques you wanted to defend yourself … or you could think fast and come up with a creative way to jury rig the household item you were given for your defense.  I was only fair with the unarmed stuff and horrible with magic, but coming up with a new way to use an ink bottle or a folding chair for self-defense was probably the only fun I had in our combat training.  However, that was a very small part of the curriculum, and before long, it was back to more repetitive drills with the sword or spear.

Speaking of a long weapon like the spear, how would you use a ladder if that’s all you had?  Would you spin it around, unfold it, throw it, etc?  Interesting thing to thin about as you watch the clip.  Speaking of which, let’s get to the clip!  We’re watching this scene at 1/4 speed, starting at 3:17 (should load at that time by clicking on the link below).  You can follow along in real time by clicking below:

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This little animated .gif is, of course, from the point in the movie where the Rocketeer, not above a little self conscious vanity, asks how he looks.  Peevy, not above a little blunt honesty, says “Like a hood ornament!”  The Rocketeer blasts off for the first time, Peevy gets blown backwards into the hangar, and I get a name for this part of the podcast!

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This week’s Like a Hood Ornament section is also a fight scene analysis of a short altercation (plays not long after the .gif above) in the 1991 film … starting at 1:00 in.  As before, the clip will be playing in the background with commentating occurring in real time.  Cliff loses his weapon (in this case, a Mauser C96 pistol) and has to improvise – in this case, using his rocket pack to accelerate his flying tackle).

Stay tuned for more Rocketeer talk next week!  Stay safe!

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #241: Reading from The Thirteenth Hour on Exercise in Seclusion and the Start of Like a Hood Ornament 1

Episode #241: Reading from The Thirteenth Hour on Exercise in Seclusion and the Start of Like a Hood Ornament 1

https://archive.org/download/podcast241_202003/Podcast%20241.mp3

On this week’s show, I thought I’d touch on the topic of exercise, specifically what you can do if you happen to be isolated (either due to a global pandemic or imprisoned for other reasons, like Logan in one part of The Thirteenth Hour, which we’ll be reading from shortly.

As it turns out, there’s actually quite a lot you can do even if you can’t go to a gym.  Although being quarantined does not necessarily mean you can’t go outside (the virtues of short duration outdoor physical activity is something we discuss briefly though a scientific paper – see the abstract below), you can do a remarkable amount inside, even if you have little to no equipment.  I’ve done a version of the workout that inspired the little passage in The Thirteenth Hour for decades.  That workout was really nothing special – just having been the body weight exercises we did in martial arts classes and other calisthenics I recall from an old Canadian Air Force fitness manual I had as a kid that we probably got at a garage sale.  If you’re interested, Arnold Schwarzenegger put together a similar routine that is available for people to access here.

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Here’s the passage from The Thirteenth Hour:

They’ll break you if you let them.  I wasn’t the strongest person out there, and though I always had hope, now I had purpose again.  I started from the beginning, with my body, the only way I’d learned how.  Every morning, after I woke up, I would wash my face and clothes, if they needed washing.  Then I did calisthenics – pushups, sit–ups, stretching – like I had done when I was in training.  My muscles felt deconditioned from lack of use and malnutrition, so much of my strength had left me, and everything was more difficult now. 

It’s hard to take it slow when your never–resting mind can envision all the things it’d like your body to be able to do once more.  But in the end, sometimes it’s best to just get busy trying and spend less time thinking. 

When I could comfortably walk around my cell and jog in place, I slowly motioned through the different hand–to–hand combat techniques that I had learned during my training.  Who knows, I thought, if I make a break for it, I’ll need those techniques the most.  After a few weeks, my stamina began to reassert itself, allowing me to wage ongoing battles against that cloaked magician, Klax.  Whenever I felt myself growing tired, I saw his form in my mind and practiced harder. 

More than once the guards rushed into my cell, thinking that I had collapsed or died because I was lying face down on the cold stone floor.  I was actually just resting, but my guards had grown somewhat fond of me, they said, and didn’t want anything bad to happen to me.  I was never sure if they were telling the truth or not; I’ll bet Klax would have had their necks if they had been so careless as to let me kill myself without his being able to see. 

My agility came back last.  The cell was not large enough for much, but the ceiling was high and my boots were padded, so I figured it was worth a go.  Pretty much anything is, though, after you’ve been cooped up in the same room for weeks. 

I tried standing on my hands again, at first with my feet resting against the wall to accustom my arms to the change in weight they’d be frequently bearing in the near future.  Then handstands without the wall.  Then handsprings, and finally, aerial techniques.  As for the latter, the first few times, the guards must have heard the sound of my feet slamming into the stone floor because they came running.  They saw what I was doing, took it as a suicide attempt, doubled their checks on my cell, and, of course, made me stop at once, lest, by golly, I crack my head open on the hard stone floor.  I was too far into my regimen to really care what they thought, and it just meant I had to practice when they were asleep or weren’t looking.  And try to land softer. 

 

There were a few times when I did go overboard and missed beaning my noggin on the stones out of sheer luck.  It goes with the territory … sooner or later, everybody ends up bailing in midair.   One minute you’re in the air, next thing you know, your jump seems off or things just feel weird, and if you have time to think anything at all, that’s about when you think some bad words, along with “this could hurt.” 

But I knew that once I regained confidence in my body and what it could do, I would stop bailing.  I knew my body would get used to being in strange positions in the air again, and I knew the best way to not get hurt was to go all out on each technique.  I just wasn’t quite there yet, resulting in a few midair problems and hard landings on an unforgiving stone floor.  I hurt an ankle after a bad landing – an easy thing to do if you’re practicing on a hard, uneven surface like the floor of my cell – but thankfully escaped anything worse.  Luckily, I had a good set of boots – one of the few things Darian’s Army did right – that were light and flexible with thick, padded soles meant to withstand miles upon miles of marching and other abuse.  Later, Aurora found me a mattress, which she intended for me to sleep on (which I did, of course), but what she didn’t know was that it was the mat I used to soften my landings.

https://imgur.com/gallery/yYmEOnO?s=sms

So I finally took the plunge and created a little profile on Tik Tok.  To be honest, I don’t get 95% of the stuff on there, but it has some videos of people making stuff and doing flips, so that’s enough for me.  I mainly just use it to post some videos of the resin minifigures I’ve made.  This is the backflip animation whose frames are above.

Today also marks the first Rocketeer segment as a part of the podcast.  Now, obviously, there have been many episode mentions about the Rocketeer before, though here are a few:

Ep 18 on comics (Dave Stevens)

Ep 53 on rewatching the Rocketeer as an adult

Ep 235 on making the resin miniature Rocketeer

But this week’s show marks the first time starting an actual segment (kind of like how I used to do a starving artist segment before) that I’m calling:

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https://imgur.com/gallery/yYmEOnO?s=sms

That’s “Like a Hood Ornament” if your interface doesn’t support graphics (that’s you, iTunes show notes).  You may recognize the moniker as a line from the 1991 film.  Today’s we’ll start out with the fictional bio most likely written by Dave Stevens for his protagonist, Cliff, who inspired Logan in many ways.

More coming next week!  Stay safe!

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #238: Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick – Benny the Jet vs. Jackie Chan Part 2 from “Dragons Forever” (1988)

Episode #238: Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick – Benny the Jet vs. Jackie Chan Part 2 from “Dragons Forever” (1988)

https://archive.org/download/podcast238_202002/Podcast%20238.mp3

This week, we have another special episode!  Jeremy from the martial arts site and biweekly podcast, Whistlekick, and I are watching a fight scene from the movie Dragons Forever and commenting on it.  (You can listen to the same episode with a slightly different intro and outro on Whistlekick as well – coming on 3/5).  If you didn’t catch our earlier collaboration from the 1984 Jackie Chan – Benny Urquidez film, Wheels on Meals, you can listen to that here.

As before, we are watching it half speed, which you can do on Youtube along with us by picking the playback speed (click on the gear in the lower right hand corner of the Youtube video window).  Here’s the clip:

 

 

I was able to find the Black Belt magazine article I referenced in the film, though it doesn’t talk about either of these fight scenes; I must have gotten that from somewhere else.  It is, however, an interview with Benny about his fights to date (this was from 12/1985), so a few years before this movie was shot.  You can read it below:

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Do you have any suggestions about other martial arts movie fight scenes that would be good to delve into like this one?  Leave a comment below or email me or Jeremy.

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

 

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #234: Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick – Benny the Jet vs. Jackie Chan from “Wheels on Meals” (1984)

Episode #234: Collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick – Benny the Jet vs. Jackie Chan from Wheels on Meals (1984)

https://archive.org/download/podcast234_202002/Podcast%20234.mp3

This week, we have a special episode!  Jeremy from the martial arts site and biweekly podcast, Whistlekick, and I are watching a fight scene from the movie Wheels on Meals and commenting on it.  (You can listen to the same episode with a slightly different intro and outro on Whistlekick as well; it’s episode 471 on his show.)  We are watching it half speed, which you can do on Youtube along with us by picking the playback speed (click on the gear in the lower right hand corner of the Youtube video window).  Here’s the clip:

And here are the notes I made highlighting some of our coments:

0:11 ground striking sequence with great choreography.  Nice neckspring by Jackie Chan (JC).

0:20 note the eye contact – this is clearly a contest

0:23 Benny the Jet (BJ) takes off his jacket while doing a spin back kick

0:33 if you look closely you can see this spin hook kick is blocked – but not by much.  Suspect the actors made a fair amount of contact while filming.

0:40 JC takes off his shirt to be manly.  JC does stomp/push kick, ends up on his back as does BJ

0:57 Note the slight head nod … as if to say – good shot

1:12 BJ has JC “on the ropes” (“on the table”)

1:18 BJ does a nice spin crescent that snuffs out the candles – wonder how many takes it took for them all to go out?

1:30 JC gets nailed in the nose (happens several times during this fight)

1:54 nice sweep by BJ

2:00 unintentionally funny dubbing followed by JC using a chair as cover and for rest – start of round 2!

2:24 JC is loosening up, BJ seems much more static in contrast – much more than he does in his usual fights.  Perhaps done intentionally?

2:42 vaguely Drunken Master style evasion by JC

2:56 BJ does a R leg mid round kick, JC avoids by dipping his upper body low and doing almost a meia lua de compasso with R hand on floor (capoeria style spin hook kick)

3:29 tickle escape

4:07 Manson Gibson / Kathy Long style spinning backfist by JC

4:12 lead leg R kick by JC setting up hands

4:46 close ups of JC pummeling BJ – though you can see most shots are blocked by BJ.  Probably happening fast enough a lay audience may not pick it up?

5:16 flying knee from across the room, kind of like what we saw in Ong Bak years later

Do you have any suggestions about other martial arts movie fight scenes that would be good to delve into like this one?  Leave a comment below or email me or Jeremy.

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #233: Lunar New Year 2020 Celebration with “Beautiful Warrior” – a Kung Fu Story Reading

Episode #233: Lunar New Year 2020 Celebration with “Beautiful Warrior” – a Kung Fu Story Reading

https://archive.org/download/podcast233_202001/Podcast%20233.mp3

This week, to celebrate Chinese New Year 2020, we’re reading a Chinese fairy tale, Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu.  (Click on the cover below to find your own copy.)

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Chinese culture doesn’t really have fairy tales like they do in Europe, but the idea is the same – unlikely protagonist confronted with an insurmountable barrier finds mentorship and uses his or her inner strength to triumph in the end.  Like the heroes of those stories, the two women in this story embody those ideals.  It also has the great line, “No problem can be solved by a drunken monkey.”

Check out some of the beautiful paintings done by the author, Emily Arnold McCully.

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And, before we finish, here are a few pictures of the glow in the dark Rocketeer figure I’ve been working on for the past few weeks.   It’s done!  Now I’m just making copies.

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If you haven’t checked out the episode on the CGG podcast on the Rocketeer (including some on the comics and the games), you can check it out here.

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #222: Reading Choose Your Own Adventure 88 – Master of Kung Fu

Episode #222: Reading Choose Your Own Adventure 88 – Master of Kung Fu

https://archive.org/download/podcast222_201911/Podcast%20222.mp3

This week, I take a trip back to 1989 in reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book – Master of Kung Fu by Richard Brightfield and illustrated by Frank Bolle.  It’s a real blast from the blast – a true mish-mash of 80s Asian tropes, including most of the stuff that permeated martial arts films at the time.  Some of it is truly, well, cringeworthy, like some of the 80s kung fu and ninja flicks back then … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  I thought these books were the bee’s knees in 1989 so I’m going to try to suspend, you know, reality (at least in an adult sense), and appreciate this with the mind of an elementary school age child (which makes it awesome again).

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By the way, speaking of kung fu and ninjas, yes, they’re both in this book.  Yes, I know it’s talking about China and kung fu and white lotus societies.  There are still ninjas (suspend judgement, suspend judgement, suspend judgement, ok?  Ninjutsu has some roots in Chinese martial arts, and it all goes back to India and Tibet, anyway, so … you know, just go with it).

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Yup, straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – totally not joking … one of the more cringeworthy parts … product of the times.

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Basically sums up the 80s ninja craze – stick ’em everything! Especially wearing the black PJs in broad daylight, since you know, that blends in so well. It all made more sense in 1989.

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There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished last winter, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #221: A Conversation with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on Ong Bak

Episode #221: A Conversation with Jeremy Lesniak from Whistlekick on Ong Bak

https://archive.org/download/podcast221final/Podcast%20221%20final.mp3

This week’s episode was done in collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak, the founder and host of whistlekick, a martial arts supply company and a biweekly martial podcast.  Today, we’re talking about the 2003 Thai film, Ong Bak.

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I remember being really excited when this film was just coming out, since my friends and I were heavily into martial arts, bboying, and gymnastics (basically, what would later be called tricking).  Here was a film right up our alley.  Given this was an era a few years prior to Youtube, someone scrounged up a trailer with a compilation of stunts from the film, and passed it around, and we watching it over and over.  Although you can watch the full clip on IGTV, I’ve isolated a few clips from a chase scene in the film below:

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I found a few training sequences on Youtube showing Tony Jaa and the stuntmen practicing the street chase scene – incredible!

In case you missed the last time Jeremy and I did a movie episode, check out episode 210, where we were talking about the 1978 Shaw Brothers classic, The 36 Chambers of Shaolin.  As a way of tying these two episodes together, here’s an old clip of bboys Crumbs and Remind (Style Elements Crew) in what I used to call “Shaoling with Style,” graciously found and uploaded by a kind soul:

Is there a movie you’d like to see discussed here!  Let us know!

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9c855cfe-2bcf-4f9b-9681-898d80b49e9a

There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished last winter, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Episode #210: Reflections on The 36th Chamber of Shaolin with Jeremy from Whistlekick

Episode #210: Reflections on The 36th Chamber of Shaolin with Jeremy from Whistlekick

https://archive.org/download/podcast210_201908/Podcast%20210.mp3

As mentioned this past Monday, this episode was done in collaboration with Jeremy Lesniak, the founder and host of whistlekick, a martial arts supply company and a biweekly martial podcast. Today, we’re talking about the 1978 Shaw Brothers film, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, a kung fu film that achieved a certain amount of critical acclaim and the rare crossover to mainstream popularity.

I think I first watched it as a child in its original language (Mandarin … I vaguely recall it being on a Chinese TV station that we sometimes got if the stars aligned and the reception came through in just the right way). The only thing I really recall from the film from that first viewing was the main character trying to jump over logs in the water, repeatedly failing, and trying again and again. It’s odd what your brain chooses to remember.  For some reason, that would be my image of the martial arts for the next several years – a series of esoteric, masochistic practices that embodied the literal spirit of kung fu (功夫, a.k.a. “hard work”) and not disproved by television programming at the time, like the 80s ninja films or the 70s Kung Fu series with similar portrayals of training at the Shaolin Temple.

I can’t say my own exposure to martial arts training (which started a number of years later and has continued into the present) has done much to entirely disprove that early impression, either. Training should be harder than reality, my instructors have often said. Interestingly, something I took from my rewatching of the film this time was just training harder and longer, expending more sweat and energy in the process, need not be the best way to achieve success. The main character in the film does train hard in his own right – don’t get me wrong – but he succeeds as much due to his own ingenuity as due to his persistence.

Films like this, as well as my own experiences, are probably why I wanted to write a martial arts story (which ended up being Empty Hands) mostly about training, since the journey from beginner to master seems much more interesting and inspiring than the incremental improvements of someone who is already exceptional or the nonjourney of someone who is already highly skilled and is just plying his trade without much change or improvement.

It’s also interested how much films of this era influenced many people a world apart. If you talk to many of the OGs in the hip hop scene in the late 70s and early 80s, they often reference these kung fu films as being influential and inspirational. Check out this interview with RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan below (the DVD commentary for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin has him on it discussing the film):

If you haven’t see the film, give it a chance and check it out!

In the meantime, check out whistlekick on social media on Facebook and Instagram.

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This page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  Click on the picture below to listen!

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Preview for Episode #210

Preview for Episode #210

https://archive.org/download/episode210preview/Episode%20210%20preview.mp3

So – there won’t be an episode this Monday  … because the show instead will be on Thursday!  It’s a special one released jointly with my collaborator for this episode, Jeremy Lesniak, the founder and host of whistlekick, a most excellent biweekly martial podcast that you should definitely check out if you have any interest in the martial arts world (Whistlekick is also a martial arts supply company – check it out here).  We’re talking about the 1978 Shaw brother’s film, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin!

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As a frame of reference for what we’re talking about in this clip, check out this montage of the main character’s training:

Check out the full episode on Thursday!

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This page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

 

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #209: “Empty Hands” Reading – Elemental Alignments

Episode #209: Empty Hands Reading – Elemental Alignments

https://archive.org/download/podcast209_201908/Podcast%20209.mp3

This week, I’m reading a short excerpt from the martial arts novella, Empty Hands, as a follow up to last week’s episode on the Dungeons and Dragons influences.  This section touches on the five elements in nature (more back in episode 151) and how they fit the characters:

 

Jake and Aurora both fell into a character class Wally the wizard had called the “earth type.”  As the guys had mentioned, we’d done a little presentation detailing our strengths and weaknesses early in our training (I had to do mine twice since I didn’t understand the assignment the first time and had instead talked about Aurora).  Wally used that assignment to go into something he called “The Elemental School of Personality Assessment,” which he said was an important part of not only our magical studies but our training in general.  There were five main personality types corresponding to the five divisions of elemental forces in nature – earth, water, wind, fire, and space, as well as an infinite combination of blends.

Pure earth types were grounded, practical people who, like strongly rooted trees, were good at weathering the vicissitudes of life but could be a bit stubborn at times.  Dependable, practical, and steady types like Jake and Ben fell into that category.  Pure water types were kind of the opposite – adaptable and fluid, like water conforming to whatever container it finds itself in, though they could be a bit all over the place.  Phil, an easy-going sort who tended to go with the flow, fit this category.  He was not, however, a fickle person, prompting Wally to categorize him as an earth-water blend.

“You mean like mud?” Phil had said when Wally passed him the sheet of paper containing his alignment and its characteristics.

We’d laughed, but then Wally shrugged.  “Water is flexible, but it can be hard, if the force is right.  Earth is not fluid but mixed with a little water, it moves easily from one place to the next until it dries.  Too much, though, and it just becomes dirty water.  Do you get my drift?”

“Um … no,” Phil had said after a long pause.

“You will.  For now, it basically means you have the best of both worlds.”  Then to all of us, he said, “Keep in mind these are just predictions.  It’s up to you to figure out if they’re accurate and how to apply the knowledge to your training.”   

Like Phil, Aron also ended up a blend – part water and part wind.  Pure wind types, like Allan, were open-minded and peaceful.  Like birds soaring above the clouds, the day-to-day troubles of the earth-bound held little meaning for them.  They craved freedom, which fit Aron, but could be a bit impractical and out of touch with reality (definitely Aron and sometimes Allan, who preferred to think everything through prior to acting on anything).  Pure fire types, like Lance and Blake, were no-nonsense folk who believed the best defense was a good offense.  It was pretty clear that dynamic, straight-forward weapons like the bow and sword fit guys like that.  The downside of fire, of course, was that not all problems could be solved in direct ways. 

That left the last category, which Wally had initially called “empty space.”  Aron had burst out laughing at this, muttering something about it being the one that fit me best, and the others had joined in.  Wally silenced them, then paused and said that, actually, Aron might have been right for once.  This caused me to redden in anger and disappointment as Aron went bug-eyed and laughed hard enough to fall out of his chair. 

It wasn’t like I was especially taken with any of the previous categories, but as the youngest and physically smallest of the Rangers, it would have been nice to not be different at something – anything – for once.  I didn’t really care about not being able to run, swim, climb, fight, navigate, or use magic as well as the others.  Unlike some, I couldn’t imagine myself “a career man,” so excelling at soldiering skills (assuming I lived long enough), seemed a bit irrelevant for me and my life in the long run.  Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less whether I fit earth, wind, water, fire, or some blend of the four – but “empty space?”  Come on!

As if reading my thoughts, Wally frowned and said, “Empty space is perhaps not the right term.  The magic books sometimes use the word void (which produced a burst of hoots from Aron), but that, too, has always seemed a poor choice.  It’s …” he frowned, sighed, then continued.  “At some point in the future, science will catch up to what we wizards have known for eons – that all matter is composed of tiny particles too small to see.  They are the essence, the anima, that gives substance and life to all things in the natural world.  And, as such, particles from the void can become any of the four.  Add enough of them packed together, and they become earth.  Space them out far enough, they become wind.  Push them a bit closer together, they reform as water.  Add a bolt of lightning or some other energy source, and they become fire.”      

Allan nodded, saying, “Most interesting.  So this is the essence we harness when we generate magic.”

“Exactly!  You are pulling directly from the void,” Wally said.

There was silence for a time as we mulled this over.  Finally, Jake turned around in his seat and looked at me with his steady, cool brown eyes.  “I’m sorry we laughed, Logan.  It was wrong of us.”

I reddened further and stared down at my notebook, doodling with my piece of charcoal.  “It’s okay,” I finally said, still avoiding Jake’s eyes.  When I look back on that experience, I wish I had met and held the man’s gaze to let him know I appreciated his apology.  But … there are some things I suppose that only come with age.

After a moment, Aron asked quietly, “So … do you think there’s maybe a little void somewhere in me?”

Wally rolled his eyes and said “Aron, be grateful for what you have.”  After the lesson finished, Wally handed me the piece of paper containing information on my alignment.  On the side, he had written:

Read this over, and see if you think it fits.  Find me if you have any questions.

~Wally 

P.S. The woman you told us about from your town – the one you grew up with – sounds like more of an earth type, though at least from your description, she sounds like an earth – void blend.  I can see why you would enjoy her company.  Hope that gives you some more information about yourself that will be helpful in the coming months.

To be honest, it wasn’t then, but looking back years later, it sure has been.

Here’s a little character sketch I did about a year ago (a little different from their final iteration) when I was coming up with the ideas presented above:

img_4013-1

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This page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #208: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 4 and Musical Interludes

Episode #208: Empty Hands Behind the Scenes Part 4 and Musical Interludes

https://archive.org/download/podcast208_201908/Podcast%20208.mp3

This week, we’re discussing Empty Hands behind the scenes, specifically the influence of Dungeons and Dragons and the character creation process.  Just like the D and D alignments, the eight Rangers in Empty Hands have their own specific alignment that informs which sidearm they are assigned.  (If the idea of D and D morality alignments are as mysterious to you as they were to me before my brother explained them to me, check out the graphic I found on the internet below).

Image result for superhero d and d alignment

The rest of the episode focuses on two new synth tracks.  I add a second track to finish up “A Place of our Own” (see episodes 202 – 204 and the pixelart animation below).

I also start a new track that IG musician @nikeboyocta approached me about inspired by Van Halen’s “Dreams” (video above).  Look for more on IG and in coming weeks!

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In the meantime, this page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

 

 

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #207: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 3

Episode #207: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 3

https://archive.org/download/podcast207_201907/Podcast%20207.mp3

This week, we’re discussing “Empty Hands” behind the scenes, specifically the 80s references, like films and cartoon shows (see some photos below) that influenced the writing of the novella.  There definitely was a fair amount of emphasis on working together as a team that featured in a lot of 80s children’s programing, (which I wanted to give a nod to).
Though I didn’t specifically focus on it, I also thought it be important to feature a variety of ethnic backgrounds for the characters in the story.  All you see is a variety of skin tones in the pictures as well as hints that the main characters are from various parts of the world, but although there was the start of getting more diverse faces out there in those 80s shows and movies, fantasy in general tends to have a more European look and feel – but why does it have to be that way?
and now we are one IG
Shows like GI Joe, Captain Planet, Voltron, and WMAC Masters all tended to not only work the teamwork idea (sometimes into the ground) but featured characters with unique looks, backgrounds, and talents that were important for the whole:

Some influential films:

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In the meantime, this page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

 

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #206: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 2

Episode #206: “Empty Hands” Behind the Scenes Part 2

https://archive.org/download/podcast206_201907/Podcast%20206.mp3

This week, we’re discussing “Empty Hands” behind the scenes, specifically the martial arts aspects of the story.  There comes a time when doing any martial pursuit that one may come to question their nature – especially the darker side of human nature (and all nature) that comes out in times of stress or despair.  In “Empty Hands,” Logan and other Rangers grapple with the strong emotions like anger and fear and how understanding those aspects of human nature can help one better understand the nicer aspects of life.  It’s one of the reasons martial arts were used as a tool by the Shaolin monks to reach enlightenment – through suffering and hard work (what “kung fu” literally means), one can better understand the world, one’s limits, and the parts of life that we can better appreciate when we understand the more fragile aspects of life.

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In the meantime, this page formerly had what I affectionately dubbed a “starving artist” section on little side hustles you could do (mostly on the internet, often with a phone) to make a few bucks here and there, often in gift cards.  Well, now you can listen to this show (as well as other podcasts) and get paid to do so!  Check out https://www.podcoin.com/ to listen to the show and start earning points that you can redeem for gift cards (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc) or donations to a number of charities.  Use the code “Thirteen” when you sign up to get 300 extra points.  The Thirteen Hour Podcast is now on BONUS this week, so you can earn more than normal (1.5x).

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #168: Logan’s Fighting Style in The Thirteenth Hour

Episode #168: Logan’s Fighting Style in The Thirteenth Hour

https://archive.org/download/Podcast168_201810/Podcast%20168.mp3

My brother recently bought the game Soul Caliber 6 and was playing around with the character creator, which is quite robust. He ended up creating a number of characters from The Thirteenth Hour (the main protagonists Logan and Aurora as well as one of the antagonists, a wizard swordsman in black armor named Klax – their battle from the book is re-enacted below).

I was pretty blown away seeing the screenshots – just like The Thirteenth Hour had been turned into a game. Jeremy also created characters for Lester and Claudia, the protagonists of our current Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and recorded some CPU controlled mock battles of the characters squaring off against each other to show case each one’s unique fighting style.

The timing couldn’t have been better, since this week’s episode is on the unarmed fighting style Logan learns and uses in The Thirteenth Hour. It’s never really described in great detail in the book, but I intended it to be a system utilizing the naturally hard parts of the body (e.g. knees, elbows, heels of the foot), like you see in muay thai combined with a relatively low center of gravity and an emphasis on economy of movement and stability while still allowing for agility (kind of like what you see in ninjutsu). I spent some time in the book describing the acrobatic exercises the Rangers had to learn, though the emphasis really was on improving body awareness, learning how to fall, roll, and recover from a loss of balance as well as conquer fear. Although Logan uses a wall flip at one point to save himself from turning into a mess smeared on a castle wall, I didn’t anticipate these would be techniques the Rangers would employ in combat (unlike what martial arts movies usually portray). Same with the higher and jumping kicking techniques of martial arts legend … again, although Logan does a spinning hook kick at one point to good effect, it was more because the opening was there and ripe for the taking than anything. It goes along with the philosophy that what you learn should always be more than what you actually might need to use, since (in life and) in fighting, we rarely rise to the occasion – we fall back on something much rougher than what we learned (which will hopefully still be enough).

I envisioned he probably would have done more techniques along the lines of these less flashy strikes, like screenshots from Jeremy’s video showing a lead side punch and a scooping kick to block or intercept an incoming leg:

You can watching the whole narrated video here:

Jeremy’s YouTube channel also has links to all of our D and D videos for your listening/watching pleasure.

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #165: Reflections on Rewatching Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 

Episode #165: Reflections on Rewatching Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

https://archive.org/download/Podcast165_201810/Podcast%20165.mp3

Today, we’re talking about the 1986 film, Big Trouble in Little China. It’s really fun film that has a little bit of everything – martial arts, action, fantasy, comedy, satire, even a bit of horror and romance – with a great cast.  I’m not sure what I would think of the film had I not seen it years ago or been interested in martial arts, since it’s absolutely a product of its time and its lineage (paying homage to movie serials from the first part of the 20th century and 70s and early 80s kung fu films), but if you like any of those things, you’ll probably find something to like in the film.  I’m not sure a film like it would be made today, but for the time, it not only introduced the feel of those old Hong Kong produced kung fu films to a mainstream Western audience but gave work to a lot of Asian American actors – they outnumber the Caucasian actors in this film (unusual for Hollywood at the time).

If you were interested in martial arts during the 80s or 90s, you’ll recognize a bunch of familiar faces and names. A lot of these guys showed up in martial arts magazines at the time and worked in stunts for martial arts and action movies.  For example …

Jeff Imada, Kevin Endoso, Kurt Russell, and Al Leong:

The man holding up his fingers is Victor Wong, the grandfather in 3 Ninjas.

Jeff Imada in action (above) and Gerald Okamura (below; interview with movie trivia in the link)

James Lew often did fight choreography for films (like this one) and often had larger speaking roles in various action films as well.

Click on the poster below to find a copy of the film:

Enjoy a little collection of animated gifs from the film:

Below is a clip of Carter Wong in another film – he’s the one I keep calling “the Chinese Arnold” in the podcast:

One of my favorite lines from the movie:

And if you want your own Tec 9 like Jack Burton but don’t want to deal with the black market or figure out what’s legal in your area, you might try finding an airsoft version.  This Japanese gas powered version is actually now really rare and hard to find.  It’s probably about the same vintage as the film.  But there are some electric versions that are much easier and cheaper to find these days.

There is also a comic book that continues the adventures stated in the film.  Here’s a frame that makes good use of Wang’s name …

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The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film.

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai

Episode #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai  

https://archive.org/download/Podcast164_201809/Podcast%20164.mp3

Today, we’re taking a short break from 80s movies to talk about something found in many martial arts – the shout.  In Japanese, it’s called a kiai (kihap in Korean). The character making up the term make the most sense in traditional Chinese characters (qi4 he2 – although I’m not sure if that term is actually used in Chinese martial arts or in Chinese at all):

氣合

On the left, the topmost radical is used for “steam” or “gas” usually.  The star shaped character underneath is the character for rice.  So the steam coming off cooking rice is essentially “energy” or “spirit” and a whole host of other more esoteric things, though in the practical sense, if one thinks of rice being the lifeblood of an agrarian region like ancient China, it makes sense that food = energy.  The character on the right means “together.”  The roof like part of the character is very similar to the character for person.  The one below is “one” and the box on the bottom is the character for “mouth.”  Though I’m not sure it’s explained this way, I think of it as “person or people with one mouth” – i.e. “people expressing one voice” (Chinese doesn’t necessarily have to distinguish between 1 person and many).   Notice there isn’t actually anything about shouting, though that’s how it’s often used practically.

So there are two readings from two martial arts books that discuss this idea of tapping into the universal energy that binds living things: Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams and Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi.  We end with a section from The Thirteenth Hour where the main character uses this idea in two separate ways, one defensively, one offensively.

In a way, this episode may be prep for next week’s (likely) episode on Big Trouble in Little China.  The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film over the next few weeks.

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #153: Reflections on Watching The Karate Kid 2

Episode #153: Reflections on Watching The Karate Kid Part 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast153_201807/Podcast%20153.mp3

After rewatching the original 1984 Karate Kid, I decided to give the sequel a try. I distinctly remembered not liking it as a kid (since it had the audacity of having not just one but two love stories), but since that was 30 years ago, I figured what the hell – perhaps my tastes had changed in the interim.

To be honest, this time around, I liked it better than the first movie. Don’t get me wrong, the first film has a certain teen movie charm, but I thought this one was a better movie overall. In the first film, you pretty much know (as with most sports movies), what’s going to happen. Lots of pain until the end when the hero goes out, gives it 110% for the Gipper (so to speak), and wins the game, match, race, etc. (Sure, sportsmanship dictates that learning how to lose well is just as important as winning. Any grade school kid can tell you that – even if they don’t believe it – since they’ve heard it from countless adults who know the truth – no one wins all the time. That all goes out the door with your typical sports movie). We know that despite seemingly being unprepared for the kind of fighting in the All Valley Karate Tournament, Daniel-San is going to win. He’s the hero, after all, but it wouldn’t be much of a story if he were kicking ass right from the get go. Speaking of which, we guess he’s going to use that crane kick (really just a stylized jumping front kick) in the clutch when all the chips are down. Every hero needs an ace up his sleeve, even if said ace has a suicidal opening stance that exposes just about everything and probably wouldn’t work 99% of the time.

Not surprisingly, the crane kick makes a reappearance in the sequel but is blocked. The sequel basically rehashes almost everything from the first film but raises the stakes … and with that, casts doubt as to the outcome. No longer in it just Daniel fighting, it’s Mr. Miyagi, too. It’s not a game of three points until the match is done, then bow and shake hands. The match is done when the loser is dead. With odds like that, the sequel manages to keep things up in the air and uncertain until the end.

One thing that surprised me (since I have vague memories Daniel in Karate Kid 3) was that Daniel was qnite a bit more centered and chilled out in this one. I found him more likable as a result. I figured the writers wanted to show some growth and highlight the effect the relationship he’d developed with his mentor and teacher, Mr. Miyagi, had had on his hotheaded nature.

Whereas the first film was really a sports, teen, and father-son/student-teacher film that happened to be about karate, this one felt more like a traditional martial arts movie. I liked the Okinawan setting and the touches of “old Japan” the film had (while quaint and probably a bit stereotypical), which added to the overall mystique of the film. It was also easy to root for Daniel and Mr. Miyagi since the enemies in this film, Sato, Mr. Miyagi’s childhood friend turned corrupt businessman, and Chozen, one of Sato’s henchmen who takes an immediate dislike to Daniel, do a good job being villains. It was a little harder to feel that way about his nemesis from the first film, Johnny Lawrence, since you got the sense he was an inherently decent, if immature, guy who might have behaved better if his circumstances and role models had been different.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. This film was more Mr. Miyagi’s story than Daniel’s, in a way, and since you can never really go wrong with Mr. Miyagi, I’d say give it a rewatch if you found it a snoozefest as a kid. There are a number of nice touches than make it worth giving it a second shot.

Case in point: in the Miyagi family dojo, there are two scrolls. Although I don’t read Japanese, they use Chinese characters for some words, and usually, the meaning is about the same. On the right, 空手無先手 literally means “karate (’empty hand’) is not for offense,” and on the left, 先正其 心 I think translates into something like “first, fix your own heart,” which is a little different from how Mr. Miyagi translated it in the film but fits with the way he lives his life and what he tries to instill in Daniel.

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #152: Reflections on Watching The Karate Kid Part 1

Episode #152: Reflections on Watching The Karate Kid Part 1

https://archive.org/download/Podcast152_201807/Podcast%20152.mp3

My town recently had a showing of the 1984 film, The Karate Kid. Having not seen the movie in about 20 years, I was curious how it would hold up. There is a great Sports Illustrated article that gets many of the original cast and crew members together to talk about their experiences making a movie and reflections decades later. It encapsulates a lot of what is referenced in this particular podcast episode – mainly that there were many things included in the film that never occurred to me as an eight-year-old first watching the film. There’s less black-and-white duality in the characters, for example. Daniel seems a little less good, Johnny seems a little less bad, Mr. Miyagi seems a less less all-knowing. Everyone, in other words, feels a bit more human. And perhaps that’s the way it should be, since it isn’t really a movie about martial arts at its core. Next week, on to Karate Kid 2 (which, in some ways, I liked more than the first one. Though that, too, was an adult development).

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #117: “Born Again” and The Man Without Fear

Episode #117: “Born Again” and The Man Without Fear

https://ia601509.us.archive.org/30/items/Podcast117_201711/Podcast 117.mp3

When I was a kid, I really wanted to like comic books.  I really did.  But I ended up having about as much luck with them as I did with fantasy novels – meaning that, aside from a few isolated one-shot deals, it was a mostly a miasma of confusion and disappointment.  Of course, I had a few tattered Spiderman and Superman comic books, but for the most part, I didn’t have the fainted idea what was going on in them.  I’d mostly just look at the pictures and sort of guess what was happening since I was usually missing part 1 of whatever story arc it was and probably only had issue 3/7, like how someone who doesn’t understand the language might feel when watching a film without subtitles … one can appreciate the art … but everything else is kind of a gamble.

There were a few notable exceptions, though – Dave Stevens’  The Rocketeer and the only Daredevil comic I had a kid, a collection of stories in an arc dubbed “Born Again.”  Ripe with heavy Christian symbolism (sacrifice, redemption, Armageddon) and rendered in mostly dark primary colors depicting a grim and seedy vision of pre-gentrification NYC, writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli created a world that you didn’t exactly want to inhabit, but like watching a train careen into a mountain, man, oh man, you couldn’t look away from, either.

In today’s episode, I reflect a little on this fine example of storytelling.

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Daredevil, sans costume, takes on one of the Kingpin’s enforcer’s trying to ventilate him.  Nice kick!  Time to visit the dentist …

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I read this story around the time I was starting martial arts and liked that it included some martial arts techniques for Daredevil, here fighting an impostor in his costume).    Another nice side kick above and a variety of spearhands below:

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At the time, when reading this story, I had no idea Daredevil was blind and always marveled at how he managed to not kill himself jumping all over the place.  I guess that is why he is the man without fear.

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I thought this quote was the coolest thing as a teenager.

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At their very core, superhero stories laud the best and worst of humanity.  But while they serve as idealistic examples of wish fulfillment, it can be hard to relate to a superhero. By making him fall to new lows, this comic did a great job making Daredevil into a relatable human being.  It’s symbolic he spends most of the story arc without his trademark costume and that the last page shows him as a regular guy walking down the street.  For those of us who haven’t quite fallen to those gritty depths, there is still hope.  Maybe that means we then have something to lose and thus, something to fear.  But in a world where danger seems to lurk around every corner (if you believe what the news says), feeling no fear may not be realistic or even prudent.  But it doesn’t mean we can’t put our best selves forward, one foot in front of the other, and at the very least, fake being unafraid.  In the end, who can really tell the difference?

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞