March 8th, 2013


cult of personality in martial arts

Sensei Jennifer Fremon is a martial arts instructor and student -- she co-owns one of the dojos in my discipline of karate with her husband, and she also studies jiu-jitsu -- and she blogs about being a martial artist and a mother and other stuff. Her latest entry is an excellent piece on the dangers of how being a martial arts instructor can turn ugly if you're not careful -- or if, y'know, you're a sociopath....

An excerpt:
Picture a "Kaicho Nakumura" in your head. Got it? Yup, what you are picturing is exactly what he was like. Japanese. Average sized in stature but huge in presence. Mostly soft spoken, except when angry. Occasionally grunts in Japanese. Has a bunch of black belts who follow him around doing his bidding. Gives speeches after class about the way you should live your life, how you should treat your family, and so on, while wide-eyed white belts look on in awe.

The thing is, Kaicho Nakumura was a nice guy. He had a good heart, a kind spirit, and the genuine belief that karate could change people's lives for the better. He was about discipline. And respect. And honor. And he was a no-joke karateka. The real deal.

He was no Lloyd Irvin, that's for sure.

Yet still, people would whisper his name in reverence Students would practically trip over themselves in order to pass privileged information to him, to gain his favor. If you were in his inner circle, you were worthy. If you were lucky enough to be in his class, you were hoping that some of the magic dust would fall on you, thereby transferring all the secrets of the ages into your soul. Students carried his bags. They brought him water. They didn't eat until he took his first bite. And some of them would sell their first born child if Kaicho Nakamura told them too.

Did this man actually have the balls to stand up there and demand that everyone worship him? No. He never even talked about himself. He was just being a karate teacher. He didn't ask for any of this? He didn't! It just happened! It just happened purely because he was the head of this karate organization and people were looking for a guru to follow. Can you imagine what would happen if the person in charge was actually trying to be God?

You get...well, you get Lloyd Irvin.

(For more on Irvin, here's a collection of links....)

This is something I've had to deal with only to a minor degree, as I'm pretty much just a glorified substitute, but I do teach classes solo occasionally, and I don't think I'm being immodest by saying that I'm good at it. (Mostly because if I wasn't, Shihan wouldn't keep letting me do it.) What Sensei Jennifer is talking about is a real danger. I teach little kids a lot, and there are parents who are very grateful to Shihan and to me and the other Senpais who help out. That level of respect and gratitude can very easily be twisted into something unpleasant. The Lloyd Irvin story is a brutal little cautionary tale......
  • Current Music
    "If Dirt Were Dollars" by Don Henley

a nice review of Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances

Jim Arrowood has written a very nice review of the 2007 Star Trek: Mirror Universe trade paperback Obsidian Alliances, which includes three short novels dealing with the MU in Deep Space Nine (by "Sarah Shaw," a pseudonym for David Mack), New Frontier (by Peter David, natch), and Voyager (by me).

Money quote:
When one starts reading, it feels like the beginning of Voyager all over again, only in this universe, there is no Voyager crew and it is Neelix and Kes that are sent to the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy, where the discovery of persons with telepathic abilities are highly sought after and prized. The Terran Resistance in the persons of Chakotay and Tuvok take on the task of keeping Kes out of the hands of the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance who would use her telepathic abilities to their advantage. Without spoiling the story too much, I will also say that the Janeway/Chakotay relationship that many fans would have liked to see in Voyager happens in DeCandido’s Mirror Universe, but there is a twist to it. As a matter of fact, this story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing on what to expect next. A very clever story and one any Voyager aficionado will enjoy.
  • Current Music
    "City of New Orleans" by Arlo Guthrie

stuff what I've found on the Internet

An interview with longtime actor Sondra Farrell -- who's led quite the life -- on The Original Van Gogh's Ear Anthology blog.

Legendary NYC rock and roll DJ Pete Fornatale died last year, but his last book is about to be released: Jigsaw Puzzle, an oral history of the Rolling Stones. Click here for a lengthy excerpt on the Bronx Banter blog.

Finally, a biggie: John Scalzi has written several blog posts on his Whatever blog on the subject of Random House's onerous contract template for its new eBook-only imprints. John rips into this far more effectively than I can, so I'm just going to point you at his (many) rants on the subject, and I will add only that I agree with him completely and in all ways:
  • Current Music
    "Don't Do It" by The Band

last-minute Hugo stumping

Okay, I've been bad about this, mostly because it's not something I think about all that often, mostly because most of my fiction has been tie-ins, which only get award consideration from the Scribe Awards and not the Hugos or Nebulas, but....

Well, I have two pieces of short fiction that are eligible for the Hugo Award, "The Ballad of Big Charlie" (published in V-Wars) in the Best Novella category and "I Believe I'm Sinkin' Down" (published in Tales from the House Band Volume 2) in the Best Novelette category.

The problem, of course, is that nominating for the Hugos closes in two days, so I'm leaving this appallingly late in the game.

Having said that, I still want to throw it out there, and I'll even make the two stories available for free to anyone who is a Hugo voter who e-mails me at krad at whysper dot net (with some kind of proof of membership, even if it's something as simple as a link to the page on the WorldCon web site that lists you as a member).

Whoever you decide to vote for, though, this is the place to do it, and you only have until the 10th of March to do it.
  • Current Music
    "St. James Infirmary" by Hugh Laurie