Return of The Karate Kid

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I grew up in the 80s. If we wanted to watch a movie we had to walk to the video shop and rent it. If there was a new TV series we had to wait, painstakingly every week for the next episode. We had queue outside the cinema in order to get tickets for latest blockbuster. I remember like it was yesterday when The Karate Kid 3 was being being released on video. I called up the local video store everyday for a week to see when it was coming in. I put my name down to reserve a copy but I still called. When it finally turned up my Dad received the call from the shop and down he went. It was a Sunday night, a school night. He made me a deal; I could watch it tonight but tomorrow I had to go to school. Or have the day off tomorrow sick and watch it then. I chose to watch it now and brave school poorly. And it was worth it.

TKK

The Karate kid movies were a seminal part of my childhood and I am absolutely delighted to see its return in 2018 in the form of a 10 part TV series titled Cobra Kai. (I will be binge watching it if at all possible). I found myself sick this week and with time to kill, and after watching the Cobra Kai trailer a few times, I decided to re-watch The Karate Kid Pt1 and Pt2 along with the Jackie Chan remake (Which I enjoy). They were as enjoyable to watch today as they were back when I was a kid. But for very different reasons. Sure the fight scenes don’t hold up to modern day cinema and the music is awfully dated, but that just adds to the charm of the movies. When I watched them as a kid the movies were about the new kid who gets bullied so he learns Karate in order to put a stop to it. But watching it again there was much more to it, more than a 10yr old is willing or even able to see.

The Karate Kid is about parenthood. It’s about passing on life skills to your children. Picking them up when they fall and making sure no harm can befall them until they’re ready and able.

When we meet Daniel it’s just him and his mum, they move to California from New Jersey and if we assume the movie is a metaphor for life, Daniel is entering a new world , being born. (We learn in TKK Pt2 that Daniel’s father has died) The first man Daniel meets is Mr Miyagi and in the first real scene they have together, Miyagi has Daniel cut and prune his own Bonsai tree. The tree represents Daniel’s life and it’s up to Daniel to cut and shape it however he chooses. After a run in with the Cobra Kai’s Daniel throws his bike, which is beaten and broken, in the rubbish. Miyagi restores the bike and gives it back to Daniel. This isn’t just a gesture of goodwill because he feels bad, this is a lesson. A lesson we all teach our children. No matter what state something is in we can care for it, love it and hopefully return back to the way it was. The most pivotal scene for me is the Birthday scene when Miyagi gives Daniel his Karate suit (Gi) and on the back is a stitching of a Bonsai (Daniel’s life) tree that Miyagi’s wife made before she died. This symbolises Daniel as part of the Miyagi’s family. We also find out that Miyagi’s wife and son died because there were complications at birth and  no doctor was able to come and help, which riddles Miyagi with guilt and grief which comes out during a drunken scene midway through the movie.

Skeleton

During the Halloween fight scene between Daniel and the Cobra’s, Miyagi comes to Daniels aid, but not as the Karate master defending a kid against bullies, he comes as the doctor rescuing his son from death. (The Cobra’s are dressed as skeletons, death…I mean come on)  There are plenty of scenes throughout the movie where Miyagi imparts life lessons and I’d love to write about them all I will just urge you to rewatch it.

The scene that comes in for a fair amount of flack is the climax crane scene. Again this movie isn’t about Karate, it’s not about winning a tournament, it’s not even about standing up for yourself. To me it’s about parenting. The crane scene is all about the really fucking important lessons we teach our children when we’re not teaching them. When we think they’re not watching. Miyagi never intended to show or teach this to Daniel, and after seeing and hearing about it Daniel decides to teach it to himself and with great success (It’s Hollywood so it was always going to be that way).

The nod that Miyagi gives to Daniel as he raises his two arms and broken leg in his last ditched effort, to practise his final lesson, that seals it. The relationship between these two has been cemented. Father and Son

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Since my visit back to these movies I have come to greatly appreciate the subtleties of The Karate Kid and the father/son relationship that exists between Daniel and Miyagi. My fear is that the new TV series will miss these hidden depths, much like the 2010 remake did, but I hope it pays homage to these two wonderful characters that I grew up with and who were such a big part of my childhood. I do look forward to the new chapter and I hope going forward is as much fun as going back.

“To all those whose progress remains hampered by ego-related distractions, let humility – the spiritual cornerstone upon which Karate rests – serve to remind one to place virtue before vice, values before vanity and principles before personalities.” Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura (legendary Karate grandmaster)

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Songs in the key of life

I got to do something I almost never get to do last night. I was fortunate enough to play in a 12 piece big band ( I’m not sure if 12 constitutes ‘big’ but fuck it). It was in a field in Kent with 11 people only 1 of whom I’d met before. We had free food and a free bar and for the most part the sun was shining. As I said I don’t get to play with this many musicians on a gig that often but when I do I absolutely love it. As a guitarist it’s a joy not to be told to cover: the brass parts, the backing vocals, piano parts, string lines whilst at the same time fending off some pissed bloke who wants to get up and play Wonderwall with us.

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I want to say how much fun it was and how much I enjoyed it. But that doesn’t do it justice. The truth is; it was pant wettingly, ball bouncingly, head bangin riot, arse shakingly good fun. It was like having your arse tickled with a feather. We grooved, we rocked, we jazzed and there was even a rap. Any mistakes were quickly picked up or were brushed under the rug, no one noticed because we were cooking. There were no egos and no prima donnas. We were all there for the collective good. Making the songs sound great and making sure everyone left happy and a little sad that it was over.

With 12 in the band it meant that we all had to work less. That’s right, LESS. I didn’t have to worry about anything other than the guitar parts, as there was a piano and 3 part horn section. I didn’t have to worry about filling out the space. I just concentrated on sitting in the groove. The same also applied to the piano player. With 4 vocalists I didn’t have to worry about backing vocals, plus the singers as individuals didn’t have to worry about their voices getting tired. With a percussionist along for the ride this freed the drummer up to sit back and hold the groove down, which he did impeccably. The icing on the proverbial cake…trombone, sax and trumpet. Sprinkling musical magic everywhere we went.

It was a beautiful evening. 12 people coming together, unrehearsed, for the common good. We had jazz musicians who had studied in some of London’s finest schools playing next to musicians who couldn’t read a lick of music and who referred to musical parts as ‘the bit that goes doo de dee da da bat bat bum’. We had players that had toured the world with big name artists trading licks with people who still practice with the remnants of their children’s breakfast on their unwashed tee shirt. We were of different backgrounds. We were of different sexual orientation. But we were there playing for the song, not the individual. It is a testament to what can be achieved when like minded, focused and dedicated  people come together with a single goal in mind. And it was fantastic.  It’s a shame large factions of the world don’t adopt these principles. We have psychotic sociopaths vying for power and control at the expense of the rest of us. Carving us up into fractions, continuously pointing out our differences and forcing us to focus on our differences rather than our similarities. As part of my daily recovery from addiction, I meditate. It’s not something I profess to doing well or daily for that matter. But when I do I try to picture myself sitting crossed legged on the Moon, looking back at the earth. Watching it spin so elegantly. Gazing at the vast oceans. Watching the thunder storms in South America, the deserts of North Africa and the seemingly invariable rain in the U.K. One thing I don’t see…Borders. Flags. Countries divided by religion or race. Cities divided by sports team. Towns divided by popular talent shows. Because those divisions only exist if we let them. We and we alone have the power to eradicate them. Does that mean we should be held accountable?

I often get tarnished with ‘Left wing dreamer’ brush. I have a belief that the world could be a better place if we all put our differences aside and worked together for the common good. The trouble is we all have a different opinion of what ‘Good’ is. It’s subjective. I get tired of writing it; us coming together. I want to find something less trite, something more inspiring….but when it boils down to it that phrase sums up what I’d like to see. Less murder, less poverty, less war, more education, more love. And that’s good

Maybe you think I am a dreamer. Maybe you think that we can’t come together. Maybe you think that our division runs too deep and we will forever be a race split. But it’s out there, it is possible, I’ve seen it. It happened to me last night.

 

Getting started..

I’m torn. I’m torn between subjects that I passionately love. I’m currently taking an online course run by the Arizona State university in Astronomy. I have burning passion for astronomy, physics and all things science. The only trouble is that my Maths is shit. Now, at 35, I wish I had paid more attention in maths class instead of daydreaming about what knickers Sandy Blake had on and  how do I get my hands in them.

I also love literature. I buy books constantly. I currently have, to name a few, titles by Orwell, Dickens and Twain sitting on my shelf not being read. It’s criminal. Not to mention a few casual books on social engineering, card tricks, a killer shark and an almost finished book about Abraham Lincoln and the American civil war. My problem is:

I want to know about everything. But the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know about a great many things.

earth-from-space

So I signed up to re take my GCSE/O level/High school maths. I start in October. £45. Bargain. One of the questions I have to answer to is “Where do you want this qualification to take you?” I’m tempted to answer “To the edge of the universe” but feel I might raise a few eyebrows considering I can’t do long division without a calculator. So I’ll probably stick to “Further education”

As a musician I always have the urge to set my guitar up and record. I find the hours fall away when I’m engrossed with recording. I’m very lucky, now that my children are at school, that I have a great deal of time on my hands during the day. But I fear when asked what I did today ‘Recording ideas for songs’ might be misinterpreted as ‘fuck all’

I enjoy writing. Blogs, stories, articles you name it. I haven’t written for a long time and it gets me all knotted up inside. I find it soothing, a bit like hoovering really. It releases anger and stress. So I need to do more of it.

I love to learn. I love learning new things. I love to explore. I like to say yes. Saying yes invites the possibility of new things, experiences and people into your life. Saying yes opens the door into an otherwise undiscovered world. I don’t know where I stand. I feel like I’m in the minority. I feel most people don’t necessarily want to learn new things. New skills. New lessons. I feel most people just want to reinforce what they already know. Even if it’s untrue. Maybe I’m talking wildly out of turn or maybe I’m bang on the money. I just don’t know.

All I know is I want the world. I want every taste, every sound, every emotion and every experience I can before my short time on this ball of water is over. It won’t start tomorrow because it’s already started.

Regardless of what atmosphere we are living in the conservation of knowledge must be accelerated. For without it we suffer in stagnation.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known” – Carl Sagan

 

World Down’s Syndrome Day #WDSD15 and Sequins in the Bed

Down’s syndrome day

Marlo Love

My tired husband and I crawl into bed and realise that fairies must have dumped their treasure chest of sequins on our sheets during the day. We laugh as we unstick them from our legs.

In a room across the hall we hear two little voices talking partly to each other and partly to themselves. The conversation filled with so many run on sentences and gibberish that it begins to sound like they are talking in tongues.IMG_20140902_204939_resized_1

No matter how tidy our house gets, the evidence that two happy little girls live here is ever present. Glitter glue drawings, finger paints stuck to the carpet, hieroglyphic Crayola on the walls—all made by two loving sisters.

 

One of them happens to have Down’s syndrome. And that really is an after-thought.

 

I am not as politically pro-life as I once thought I was. I can’t get into the mind and…

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A world of Pain

Well the decorations are down, the cards have been packed away and the chocolates have all been eaten. Christmas is well and truly over; and aside from decaying tree in the front garden, it all seems a long time ago.

It’s been a crazy start to 2015. Apart from the wrecking of the Costa Concordia in 2012 I can’t think of a year which had a more destructive start.

There was of course the atrocious acts of violence in France. 12 people dead in a single act of barbarism carried out by Islamic terrorists/fundamentalists. A bomb being detonated outside the NAACP building in Colorado by a lone white man. A Saudi blogger was sentenced to ten years in prison,1000 lashes and a $250,000 fine. And fellow blogger and friend, Adam Pain has hung up his blogging shoes…for now.

I’m glad to say it’s not all doom and gloom.
Paul Golding, Britain First ‘Leader’, has been found guilty of harassment and for wearing a political uniform in public.
David Cameron has insisted that The Green party be invited to a televised party political debate/s in the run up to this years election.
Abu Hamza has been sentenced to life in prison by a court in the USA.

So my thoughts so far for 2015:

Nothing is above mockery. If you feel the need to murder people in the name of your religion then you are seriously deranged. When acts of violence/terrorism occur only the people responsible are obliged to apologize. Freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion are rights we should ALL possess.
A green jacket and a battered army land rover do NOT give you the right to bang on peoples doors and extort money from people.
Whatever David Cameron’s reasons are for insisting the Greens be invited to television debate/s I’m just glad he has spoken out. However my spidey senses tell me they’re insidious. Good riddance to a nasty piece of shit. After living rent free courtesy of the tax paying British public for the last decade or so you’re now free to enjoy the Grey bar motel courtesy of Uncle Sam.

a-world-of-pain

Until next time… Be cool to each other

Lucy in the sky with….fairy lights.

So it’s that time of year again. Every year it seems to go by a little quicker. It does only seem like yesterday when my daughter was having her first Christmas in her little red dress. Turns out it was actually three years ago. This year, for the first time, I shall be attending midnight mass. I’m not religious, as I’m sure most of you know… Not even a little

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My wife revealed to me that she would like to attend, as it was always customary in her family. (Irish/Italian living in New York) I put up my usual defense of not wanting to go and stated clearly that I didn’t want to go…So naturally after 3 or 4 minutes of silence I agreed to go. I figure 45mins singing Christmas Carols and hearing the story of Jesus’ birth was a far better option than spending the rest of 2014 with the silent treatment. But there was another reason for agreeing to go…

I watched a TED video a few weeks ago which the premise was ‘Getting what you want’
If you have a free 21mins I would recommend watching the video.
One point was trying to get out of the rut you’re in, which we all get stuck in from time to time. Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something that’s new. Going to church on Christmas eve at midnight, for me, will be new. I’m usually found propping up a bar of some description. The only way we, I, will ever grow as a human/man/husband/father is to experience new things. Getting a perspective from the other side of the fence. Breaking out of a routine that makes days fall away like the old needles of a Christmas tree. So with that in mind the four of us will trot off to church. I’ll keep of copy of Christopher Hitchens in my coat pocket… Just for moral support.

So we have our tree up, the girls are little older, which brings back that Christmas sparkle that we had as children, that somehow gets lost in the haze of adolescence. We bought a bottle of mulled wine and the cakes, sweets & chocolates are starting to roll in. Whatever you plan on doing this season, be it going to church, learning about the winter solstice or learning about how other faiths/non faiths celebrate this time of year..I hope it’s a good one.