Nearly all the posts are bilingual.
Presque tous les articles sont bilingues.

English spoken. On parle français. (وكمان منفهم عربي، حبيبي)

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La plupart du contenu de ce blog est soumis aux droits d'auteurs. Par exemple, nombre des illustrations les plus récentes sont faites par moi. Je suis du genre coulant. Si vous comptez emprunter du contenu, SVP contactez-moi en laissant un commentaire. :-)

Monday, June 16, 2008

3 Samurais

With my talent for splitting hairs, I must've been a samurai in a previous lifetime.
Which reminds me of a story:

Long ago, in a distant land... A shogun wanted to hire a samurai for his service, and was naturally seeking for the best of the best. So he held ronin trials.
The youngest of three ronins stepped forward, for he had been the first to postulate. He opened a match box with one hand, releasing a gnat, while his other hand drew his sword. SWISH! The gnat was split in two, mid-air.
The shogun did not blink. But he nodded in approval: "Very efficient."
The second ronin present, older and more experienced, confidently stepped forward in turn. One hand on his sheathed sword's handle, he released a gnat with the other. SWISHY-SWISH! [Western translation: "SNICKER-SNACK!"] The gnat fell down, cut in four pieces.
Calmly, the shogun commented while the ronin sheathed back his katana in an elegant fluid motion: "Impressive."
The third ronin was very old and frail, it seemed as if the slightest breeze would blow him away. His scarce hair was like cotton, his limbs like reeds, but his gait was steady, and his gaze like crystal. He had outlived two masters who died peacefully from old age, and was now seeking a new employment. He drew a match box from his sleeve with one hand, and with a flick of the other, released his gnat. There was a whisk in the air, and then the handle of his sheathed sword had shifted position. But the gnat was still flying in excited zigzags.
The shogun lifted an eyebrow in surprise. The other two snickered, forgetting the respect owed to the elders: "Hah! You move very fast, but you missed."
"I did no such thing", the old swordsman said calmly as his gossamer beard slowly settled down. "This gnat is now jewish."

The story ends well, for the two younger applicants stayed as the wise samurai's disciples.
Why kill when you can convert?


Avec mon talent pour couper les cheveux en quatre, j'ai dû être samouraï dans une vie antérieure.
Ce qui me rappelle une histoire:

Il y a longtemps de cela, dans une terre lointaine... Un shogun voulait engager un samouraï à son service, et naturellement il cherchait le meilleur des meilleurs. Il organisa donc une épreuve de rōnins.
Le plus jeune de trois ronins s'avança, car il avait été le premier à postuler. Il ouvrit une boîte d'allumettes d'une main, libérant un moucheron, tandis que l'autre main tirait son épée. SWISH! Le moucheron fut coupé en deux en plein vol.
Le shogun ne broncha pas. Mais il opina légèrement du chef en signe d'approbation: "Très efficace."
Le second ronin présent, plus âgé et plus expérimenté, s'avança à son tour avec assurance. Une main sur la poignée de son épée au fourreau, il lâcha un moucheron de l'autre. SWISHY-SWISH! [Que Lewis Carroll aurait traduit par: "SNICKER-SNACK!"] Le moucheron s'abattit, tranché en quatre.
Calmement, le shogun commenta, tandis que le ronin rengainait son katana en un geste élégant et fluide: "Impressionnant."
Le troisième ronin était très vieux et frêle, il semblait que la moindre brise pourrait l'emporter au loin. Ses cheveux clairsemés étaient tels du coton, ses membres pareils à des roseaux, mais son pas était ferme, et son regard comme le cristal. Il avait survécu à deux maîtres qui étaient morts paisiblement de vieillesse, et cherchait maintenant un nouveau poste. Il tira une boîte d'allumettes de sa manche d'une main, et de l'autre il libéra son moucheron d'une pichenette. L'air frémit, et puis la poignée de son épée dans son fourreau avait changé de position. Mais le moucheron volait toujours, en zigzags surexcités.
Le shogun haussa un sourcil de surprise. Les deux autres, oublieux du respect dû aux aînés, ricanèrent dans leur coin: "Hah! Tu es très rapide, mais tu l'as manqué."
"Certes non", dit tranquillement le vieux maître d'armes tandis que sa barbe légère comme la toile d'araignée retombait doucement. "Ce moucheron est dorénavant Juif."

L'histoire finit bien, car les deux jeunes candidats demeurèrent en tant que disciples du vieux samouraï.
Pourquoi tuer lorsqu'on peut convertir?


Johnnie Walker said...

"It dices, it slices, and it makes French fries and three different ways!"
-Michaelangelo, teenage mutant ninja turtle

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Hunh. So you too are a faithful fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

I love them, they rock! Especially the classic series. I think the new, all-badass version has lost all its tongue-in-cheek, self-derision charm. Right from the opening credits you know they went and fixed something that wasn't broken.

All-white eyes à la Batman? Super-dense heavy metal myuzzak? Whatever happened to Michaelangelo riding his aqua-scooter through the sewers for some rescue, and saying to the camera: "I know, the scenery isn't much, but this place has some cool background music!"
Nothing like merrily breaking the fourth wall from time to time.

Johnnie Walker said...

Absolutely! A classic! They don't make them like that anymore. You're right, that new show definitely lacks the qualities that made the original great.

That quote is from the 1990 movie but you probably know that.

What did you think of that latest TMNT movie (if you've seen it)?

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

That "badass" trend started more than 15 years ago, but some producers still haven't caugh on how silly it is. I guess the undiscerning kids like it. But when they grow our age, they won't recall it as fondly. A classic is something you can view 20 years later and still praise.

I saw the 1990 movie, but only once, on TV. Too fast-paced to memorize all the cool lines! ;-) I only rememberd this one when you mentioned it.
That's Lebanon. A place where no über-lame Egyptian "social drama" movie could go unnoticed, but... :-P
I already have a peve against typical Western social dramas! Add to this, that the Arabs are direly limited in social attitudes. 90% of all plots are schemes for the family's money and loves unallowed by the parents. (:-0

Haven't seen the latest TMNT movie. But I'm fantacizing on getting the whole movie and classic series on DVD. Some day, some day...
The action figures did make it here though, by some fluke of the Cosmos. I got me one Turtle with the cute Jersey Devil, and the new design Splinter.

From the images, the movie seems nice. I felt the first trilogy had too big heads. Amazingly animated, though. I read it was all done live with animatronics, no CGI. Wow.
I know, sounds horribly retro today. "Non-virtual effects? Gee, Uncle Pascal, in what millenium were you born?"

Time doesn't stand still. Not even with a turtle drifting inside it. Not even with 4 turtles in it!

Anonymous said...

I too am a big fan of the original comic, the cartoon, and the 1990 movie. (I didn't care for the second or third one. Sort of like with the Karate Kid - stop at the first one, don't be tempted to cash in with sequels!)

There were definitely some problems with the costumes of the 1990 movie, but overall I thought it was still better than this newest movie. In the days before CGI so dominated, it felt more real even though it was obviously guys in costumes. The animatronic facial expressions were not that great. Still, having it live action felt better.

I had the four original Turtles toys put out for the cartoon, but never went beyond that (for lack of money). They recently came out with some new ones that are closer to the original comic, but I don't know if you'd like them Pascal because they have the white Batman eyes:


I know, sounds horribly retro today. "Non-virtual effects? Gee, Uncle Pascal, in what millenium were you born?"

Kids today! What are you going to do?!

Johnnie Walker said...

One change from the original comic book I liked - apart from making it more fun and less too-serious if I can put it that way - was that they changed the color of each turtle's bandana eye thing. In the original Mirage comic book, it was black and white anyway, but if they hadn't thought to give each character a different weapon it would have been next to impossible to tell them apart.

As it was, this was sometimes hard to do. I think the cartoon might have gone a bit far by putting a big letter M, D, L, and R on each turtle's belt.

One thing I wondered about - didn't Mike and Raph get screwed when it came to weapons? I would have wanted either the katana (a samurai weapon anyway, but oh well) or the bo. Probably the bo because it's the ultimate - way better than a sword. (After all, Musashi himself had his ass handed to him by a guy using a bo.)

My favorite of the group would have to be Mike, as after all he was a party dude, whereas Raphael was just rude. (That's not enuff in my book!) I don't remember the other two. Leo was too responsible. Don was too much of a nerd.

P.S. Hey joe, lookin' studly. And that's coming from a guy with a history of staunch heterosexuality!

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"Heterosexuality"? Really?
Ever been to Crackspine Hill? ;o)

I'm with you, many originals, including Karate Kid, became classics in a way the sequels never could have. Only the fandom for already known characters ever saved the financial butt of many a sequel.
The animatronic facial expressions were indeed far from perfect, and I could see that back in the day, but their efficiency and speed impressed me nevertheless, with the flawless lip synch even in fast talking. And who could forget the Jim Henson-made Splinter pre-mutation rat in his cage, mimicking his master's movements? Aw, so cuuuuute! :-)))

My first TMNT (or TMHT in Germany) was a classic Raphael, probably from the very first toy series, but with white eyes. Its only negative point in MY eye. Soon fixed with a fine tip black marker and some skill. In fact, because the eyes were creased in, as a result I have a figure which is always looking straight at you, no matter how its head is oriented. A simple optical effect, which could easily be generalized.
[Note to self: the day I become the new J.K. Rowling, remember to have the action figures of my characters made with follow-up eyes.]
A pupil in an eye about half as creased as it is wide works perfectly. Try it with some clay.
I would post a photo, but right now Raph is somewhere in Attic Limbo.

"Didn't Mike and Raph get screwed when it came to weapons?"
And shouldn't Raphael, wielding the Sai daggers, be the one to have said that bit about "slice-dice-french-fries"? I mean, how would Mike do it with his nunchakus???
BTW, I have the tongue-pulling Michaelangelo with rotating hand and plunger nunchakus. Much cooler, I think. Even a thug from a gang with a super-stinky name like "the Foot" would flee in abject terror at the perspective of having a toilet plunger splooshed on his face. I know this well, because I once threatened to do this to my big-mouthed cousin, and it made her three aunts raise Ragnarok on my derrière. Nuclear dissuasion wouldn't have gotten a stridenter reactionning!!! A real epic, that was.
Mom and I still fondly reminisce like old soldiers "the Day of the Plunger". The day the toilet flush whirlpool stood still!

I also have Leonardo from the "retro-mutating" series, morphs back into an ordinary pet turtle. I'm a sucker for Transformers!

Mike and Raph sure got a raw deal in the NES/Famicom game. Where the only difference between the four turtles was the size of their weapon, not the way they use it. Raph had the shortest, um, "reach"(!) of them all. But I don't know what April thought of it all...

Incidentally, at the book fair this month (remember, the one where I failed to catch a bullet?), I found a collection of 6 Usagi Yojimbo graphic novels. At US$2 each! Yeah, ah'm da man, woo-hoo! You just have to love such formidable deals.

I too liked the Raph/Mike tandem most, but let's face it: it's funnier when the whole foursome plays "odd couple". And I love how Splinter sometimes breaks his seriousness act. Like his immortal Stooges-like "secret paralyzing Master moves".

Anonymous said...

I found a collection of 6 Usagi Yojimbo graphic novels. At US$2 each!

You dirty bastard!

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Hey, I swear, I didn't kill Kenny!

:-) I also found (and have already read) the two volumes of Camelot 3000. Clearly outdated sci-fi with all the genre's clichés (how come ALL futuristic stories occur precisely in years with round numbers, for one?), but enjoyable. And some twists and themes, such as Tristan reincarnated as a woman or that "sacred nudity" non-explicit bit, were not only nifty but also daring for their time. Would still be daring in today's USA, I bet.

Anonymous said...

Well, not all. Technically Futurama started in 1999, then went to 3000.

I have heard of Camelot 3000 but never sought it out because I figured it would be pure, Grade A, 100% American Cheese. (Well maybe it was produced in England, I don't know. In that case it would be pure product from the Cheddar Gorge I guess.) Maybe I will have to give it a try. I mean it sounds like it would be pretty bad in a way, but good fun.

Would still be daring in today's USA, I bet.

America is unfortunately judged by its worst people, specifically your Bible Belt gun-toting, militia-belonging, cousin-fucking, trailer-park-living hillbilly. I haven't traveled there much myself, but I have heard from people who have that they're not all bad and not all Puritan Prudes like you'd think.

Anonymous said...

"Splinter taught them to be fighting teens."

Why not "Splinter taught them to be hero teens"? If those krauts objected to the word "ninja" because of violent connotations, you'd think they'd have objected to the word "fighting" too. Or whatever the kraut word is for fighting. It's funny how the whole thing was still in English.

It's funny, too, how Germans would have a problem with violence! ;-) "We Germans are not all smiles and sunshine!"

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Futurama started in 1999... one day before Y2K. Well, I guess that's still pretty creative. :-)

Did you know that "camelote" in french means junk?
Camelot 3000 is undoubtedly as cheesy as a 4-cheese pizza. But it is entertaining.
I've endured my fair share of dairy product sci-fi that was mostly an excuse for artificially boosting a bland "action adventure" scenario. Could as well have used planes instead of space rockets, Earth deserts in place of barren Mars, and commies replacing mutant alien fiends. C3K's better, it's sort of a Round Table graphic epic sequel, set in some cheesy future. Has nearly as much magic as sci-fi, all in all. (And no surprise, they're equally powerful, none of the two is rendered obsolete by the other.) It's also got some very good character development and psychology.
The worst shortcoming, I feel, is the dreaded return of the Stormtrooper Effect. Those invincible aliens put futuristic Earth on its knees as swiftly as in War of the Worlds, then come those wonder mystic knights a-prancing, and even the young Earth sidekick suddenly can stand his own in battle with just a sword and a 2-foot force-field wrist shield. Without so much as having received any "montage" Rocky-style training. :-P

Regarding the bible-belt six-shooter quick-draws, unfortunately it does seem that as often as possible, they MAKE the decisions for the whole country. Especially now that they have major friendships at the very top. Sure, people in these areas are not all bad. People in muslim countries neither. The only problem with institutionalized fanatics is, the agressive loudmouths will go to any length to have their way, and they intimidate the rest into approving by their silence.
At least, the USA have that intangible principle of liberties and free speech (so far). In the vast majority of muslim countries, even the most "progressive" ones, they have a goddamn law which decrees that no muslim has the right to change religions. It's called "apostasy", and don't be surprised if those "guilty" of it risk as far as the death penalty. Add to this that a newborn is registered as muslim "by default" if its parents aren't foolhardy enough to object.
Sudan is quite understanding, though: I heard that a man found guilty of drinking alcohol got sentenced to only 20 lashes instead of 40, on the grounds that he was christian.
Even in Lebanon, you have the right to follow any religion you like... provided it's a State-approved one. Meaning, one of the acknowledged currents of Christiannism or Islam. Having a religion is mandatory, so you can't just be atheist. As for Satanism... let's just say we've had very recent witch hunts under mere assumptions, and many young people got arrested for having a Goth look or a tattoo, under assumption that they "insult God by worshiping the Devil".
I ask you, where's the merit in being a believer, if you're left no choice?

And I bet that poor gnat wasn't given any choice by that mean old samurabbi...

Maybe the Germans don't have an objection against FIGHTING, perhaps they just don't like ninja attire for some mysterious reason. As they say, "Wouldn't YOU worry if you saw Zorro and Darth Vader in your grocery shop?" ;-)
[Heh... "The neutrality of this article is disputed." How bizarre!]

Anonymous said...

I ask you, where's the merit in being a believer, if you're left no choice?

Well Pascal would say just going through the motions is enough. As Richard Dawkins pointed out, you can't force yourself to believe in something. Pascal's wager says that God must only be interested in being worshiped, and doesn't care if you actually believe in him.

Of course, then you face the question of which god is the right one? Well, Allah of course!

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

FYI, I'll have you know I'm not a wagering man.
What, are you skeptical? Wanna bet on it? Bring it on!

"God must only be interested in being worshiped, and doesn't care if you actually believe in him."
If I read you well, this means God wants you in Church, no matter if you're a brazen hypocrite. As long as the money chests of the Vatican are full, and so is His mana meter for the epic battle against "the Competitor".
I must say, this casts a whole new, stunning light on the choice wisdom of all bigots.

There's a problem with "the right One". Actually, God, Allah and Yahve are the same, the One and Only Lord. The only difference is HOW you worship, depending on the user's manual which you pick.
Of course, among each of the Three Monotheisms, opinions on the "how" part also vary greatly. Why, just in my family, my extremely holy aunts keep calling each other "ignorant philistines". Often over details I never imagined existed.

My Abis-Mal ignorance forces humility.

Johnnie Walker said...

Did you know that "camelote" in french means junk?

Well, it is only a model.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"This little old thing? That's where my servants sleep." ;-)

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