Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's dream: A View to Die For.

I have been a little under the weather for the past week, and I have not gotten very much sleem lately as I have been working and out of the house a lot for the past four days. Today, after getting home around 8:30, then putting on m,y armor and walking around Manhattan for a photography student, then getting home around one, I stayed home, slept for 3 hours, then worked on editing videos and watched the Giants beat the Vikings (football, not mythology). I got to bed tonight at about 2 AM. I woke up about 4:15 from the following dream:

About a half-dozen men are in a large, round room with large windows at the top of a tall tower near the southern tip of Manhattan. The view includes NY Harbor, New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, the East River, and the bridges there. The men are all people who have done something morally repugnant, ethically wrong, illegal, or just plain shameful, but have somehow gotten away with it.

Aside from the window, the room has a domed ceiling of rich , dark-colored wood. The window frames are likewise of that rich wood, as are the walls, which are about 6’ high. The general air of the room is of a library in a wealthy Victorian mansion.

The men are there at the invite of the owner of the place, an old man sitting on a red velvt couch at one end of the room. When one of the men asks what this place is, he explains that it displays panoramic views of great disasters, but always ends the moment before you would have died.

The men wonder why they are there, and each try to avoid talking about the various repugnant things they have done, although some people in the room recognize others for who they are. The old man watches knowingly, with a half-smile on his face.

At one point the conversation turns, and it leads to discussion about what a person’s favorite time to have lived would be. One fellow says “The 20th century, a more elegant time” and the view in the windows starts to change. The city appears older, the buildings more ornate, and shorter. “I’m talking about the nineteen-tens!” he says. The ceiling disappears, revealing a spectacular sunset.

“Wow! Now that is gorgeous!” he says, looking all around at the sky. The sky is a deepening blue and purple with clouds that are highlighted in magical tones of orange. There is also a yellow-orange glow on the horizon where the sun has gone down.

“Or the 1890’s! The Victorian age!” The walls disappear, although the window frames remain, extended all the way down to the floor now. “That’s what I’m talking about! Look at those ships! Not a steam engine to be seen!” Suddenly there is an explosion among the tall-masted ships docked in the East river. “Except that one.” Sparks like fireworks shoot out of the now-burning steamship. The man thinks it must be for the sake of a spectacular fireworks show we will now see in this panorama. He looks around to NY Harbor, and sees a fire with black smoke pouring out of it into the still-spectacular sunsetted sky..

The old man interjects, “Yes, the ironic thing is, the stem engine ended the steel industry in New York.”

“Wait! This is the great fire! This is ’99!” the previous man cries. Then realization begins to dawn on him. This fire burned New York City to the ground with great loss of life. “This room shows great disasters of history!” The flames grow higher. Panic starts to set in among the guests.” We see a view as if we were in, say, the 5th story of a building, so we can see in the windows of the top floors other buildings as the flames overrun them. In one window we can see a portrait of someone who might be famous or familiar burn up. The flames are now a raging inferno in the windows.

“But wait, you said it ends right before the moment we would have died, right?” The man is panicked. He looks around. Suddenly there is an image of a small flame leaping from a smoking pipe into a lighter. The man looks around the room. The windows are now dark. The walls and ceiling have re-appeared. Everyone appears dead, even the old man. He says, with curious fear “So, what? Do we now just…expire?”

And then I woke up, saying “Faaantastic!”

A postscript began, in which we say three people walking down a long transparent corridor or elevated tunnel through a futuristic New York. But I could not drift off to sleep enough to finish it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Today's dream: I married Princess Di. I don't think she was into it

This morning I dreamed I married Princess Diana. I don’t think she was really into it.

We were in a private civil ceremony, and while she was dressed in her usual conservative elegance, I was in an over-sized sweatshirt and shorts (what I happened to be sleeping in). After an official said a few words, we were to sign a book. She signed first, very carefully caligraphing the letters, scratching them out several times and writing them over. Someone said she was doing her “chancellery hand.” I mentioned that I had several calligraphic hands that I could write in, but the fellows there said that it was traditional for it to be a Roman hand, which I knew to be big bold capital letters. I opted for a modern signature, but I didn’t want it to be my current illegible scrawl, so I drew it carefully. It wound up with oversized vowels, making it look like a child’s signature.

Also present was Prince Charles, Diana’s ex-husband, looking a lot younger than he does on the cover of that gossip paper with the headline about him being gay. It made me think that the picture was of Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband. Being as Diana was no longer wife to the Prince of Wales, I thought her title now was Duchess of York.

She did not speak to me, and barely looked at me during the ceremony and procedure, and quickly went of to lunch with a friend at a nearby café. I followed her there so I could suggest we get together sometime over the week to get to know each other a little before the big wedding that would take place a week later. Neither she nor her friend really seemed into it. Her friend even said some ostensibly polite but blatantly dismissive thing to me. I said some quasi-sarcastic thing about being sure that she would be a nice person if she wanted to.

I think I was selected mostly at random for this marriage, like she had to be married to someone for some reason, which was why I was unprepared for it.

Most of the rest of the dream has faded now. I think it may have been inspired by recent interactions with women I have met that don’t quite seem to develop into dates or relationships. This is all part of getting “back into the swing of things” after a particularly effective dismantling of my social life through the course of a recent relationship.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This morning's dream: Little Richard, Sleepy LaBeef, and Elvis Presely

Fun sort of a dream last night. It involved three of my favorite rock & rollers and a convention.

I was at a large convention of some sort (perhaps inspired by the fact that I had been at the Big Apple Comic Con for the past three days), and found myself sitting at a counter next to Little Richard. He was autographing a record album and I leaned over and asked “Richard Penniman?” He said yes.

He was younger looking that he is now, without makeup and with a very 1980’s sport of look, gerry-curled hair in a sort of afro-mullet, a silk sport coat, remarkably subdued, as if this was his off-stage persona.

I told him I was a big fan, and enjoyed his shows. He thanked me. He happened to be looking at something that had words or a name that included the work “le beuf.” I asked him if he had heard of Sleepy LaBeef. Sleepy is a great rockabilly singer whom I have seen several times but not for a few years. Sleepy does great shows and I said so. Then wouldn’t you know, I turned around, and he was coming onto the room to sign autographs! There he was, all 6’7” of him in his big black hat.

Little Richard had not heard of him, but I knew Sleepy should be a big fan, so I brought Richard over to Sleepy to meet him. Sleepy remembered me form the several times I have seen his shows. I said to him “I have Richard Penniman here” and he said “Oh, yes, the actor.” I think Sleepy may have been a bit confused and distracted. I said “no, no, Little Richard, the singer.” I think Sleepy must have been very distracted, because he could only briefly acknowledge that before turning back to deal with his autograph-seeking fans.

On our way back to the counter, Richard walked on his knees in disappointment. I started doubting that this was Little Richard because in concert it did not seem that he was quite so limber as to be able to do that. When back at the counter I grabbed his leg and felt his leg brace under his pants. That confirmed for me that it really was him.

Then somewhere in there Elvis showed up. Well, not Elvis himself, but a famous impersonator in a casual sport coat and tie. Somehow I got the three of them together, and they wound up on a line to meet someone. I don’t know who, but it was someone they all wanted to meet, along with lots of other people because it was a rather long line on the sidewalk outside. I then suggested that they sing something together. I can’t remember what they sang, but it was awesome to have Little Richard, Sleepy LaBeef, and a famous Elvis impersonator (or perhaps it was the guy from the Broadway show “Million Dollar Quartet”) singing together.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My dream this morning: Going up on a line in a movie shoot

So it seems that I was given a small but important part in a movie, and I was doing pretty good at memorizing my lines. We were shooting a scene in an empty lot next to a tall, blank, brick wall. I was supposed to wait a couple of beats, then say a line, then cross to another person in the scene while the main character said her line. We shot this a few times, but on the 4th or 5th take, I said some lines later in the scene to the person I had crossed to. But on that take, I did not get my first line right. When I tried to remember it, I couldn’t. My only explanation was that I had done the line so many times that I just went up on it. So I asked if anyone had a script handy, and no one did.

I went back into the room, which was adjacent to the lot (a somewhat good-sized room with a very high ceiling that was empty of furniture save for one corner where a whole office set-up, including desk, filing cabinets, bookshelves, printer, etc were located), where all my papers were on the floor. I had used to live in that room, but had recently moved out of it because it was being turned into an office. I gathered all my papers into a pile, but could not find my script in the pile. At the same time, the guy sitting at the desk (who happened to be the son of Tom Dolan, an English and acting teacher at Stuyvesant High School who directed the first two musicals I was in there) was trying to figure out how to run the printer (which was printing pages that looked like ditto machine prints) so that in would print a negative image. I didn’t have time to help him because I needed to find the script. I went back out into the lot, and right about then I realized this was all a dream. This was pretty surprising because I thought I could remember the weeks of rehearsals on this project.

I think part of this dream may have been inspired by the fact that I need to memorize a lot of lines for the Faux Real Theater Co's "Oedipus Rex" that I have just been cast in.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Disturbing dream about America

I just woke up from the following dream:

I was looking at a map of the United States, and it seems that a few years ago, a chunk of middle American states (mostly the ones stacked north of Texas extending all the way up to Canada) have been defined as areas which should belong to Native Americans. In fact, a big chunk of central Oklahoma and all of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as chunks of Missouri, Iowa, and maybe a little bit of Colorado have been defined as "B. B. B." I'm not sure what that stands for, but they are now an autonomous region administered by Native Americans.

So I was sitting in the window of the kitchen of my mom's old apartment on East 61st Street (only it was on the first floor in this dream, not the 4th floor, as in real life), and there happened to be a very large map of the US on the wall of the building across the street. There was a fight going on in the street over the situation represented by this map. It seemed to just be fistfights and grappling, and no one was getting bloody, so I stayed out of it. But then I saw that one guy, who had his arms held by three others, was just stabbed in the chest with a knife. I actually saw the knife being pulled out of his chest. That's when I reached in my pocket for my phone to call 911. But a police car pulled up right at that moment.

The people fighting started to scatter. I opened the windows so I could tell the cops which way they went, but one guy started advancing to the window, and I closed it, not knowing if he was a plainclothes cop or not.

Eventually I figured out he was, as a cop in a suit came to my window, which I opened. I told them I saw one of the guys who was fighting run around the corner, and that I witnessed a stabbing. The cop in the suit pulled out some papers saying they needed authorization to check my apartment for fingerprints (that fingerprint bit may have been inspired by something I saw in "Rules of Engagement" tonight). Then another guy reached right through the open window to grab something out of the kitchen. I smacked it out of his hand, and it turned out it was Woody Allen.

There was a little bit of discussion about checking the apartment, as I was sure no one came in from the street, and I wasn't comfortable with cops tromping through the place.

The theme of this dream, the fighting over the situation in America where a big chunk of it is given back to the Native Americans, was probably inspired by a debate I have been having on Facebook. It seems there is a guy who got an advertising circular from a used car dealer that included the words "Se Habla Espaniol! Trabajamos Con Tax ID!" He posted a picture on his FB page of the circular with that phrase circled in red and a yellow sticky that read "Bob- We live in America! We speak ENGLISH! 'NO BUENO!' You have permanent (sic) lost my future business."

This picture was followed by a bunch of supportive remarks, leading to accusation of a "Socialist Agenda" by the Obama administration, etc, etc, etc., and saying that this car dealer was not "pro American."

I found this quite disturbing. What's the big deal? So the car dealer speaks Spanish. In my America, we have the right to speak whatever language we want, and it is simply good business to be able to speak the language of potential customers.

Apparently there are bunches of people (some who call themselves a "silent majority") who really don't want people to use languages other than English here. Spanish seems to be the biggest target around here. Some of them are spouting a psuedo-Aristotlian quotation, "Tolerance is the last virtue of a decaying society" (which sometimes appears as "Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a decaying society" and sometimes it's "...decadent society"). Most of them are hollering "You're in America, SPEAK ENGLISH!"

They are actually taking offense at advertising and public signage that is not in English. They say that anything that makes it easier for someone who doesn't know English to get around and get along is hurting this country. They are calling for boycotts of businesses that speak Spanish (and presumably other languages). Some of them even admit, proudly, to defacement of advertisements in Spanish.

Another common theme among them is the stories of immigrants who came to America because they wanted to be Americans and learned English right away and assimilated. Assimilation with American society is a big thing among these folks. They claim that all these "push #2 to hear this message in Spanish" stuff is coddling lazy people who don't want to be Americans.

They claim that because the Founding Fathers spoke English, and the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were written in English, that no other language should be used in this country. They point out that a common language help commerce and gives a sense of unity.

Now I grew up in New York City, a multi-ethnic town with lots of neighborhoods loaded with non-English signage. I never saw it as any sort of threat to American society or as something not "pro-American." Heck, thanks to the signage, I know that "no se apoye contra la puerta" means "do not lean against the door." I had bi-lingual friends, and went to school right near Spanish Harlem. Half my high school was Asian. There was always a Spanish TV station or three on the dial. So to hear objections to businesses that speak Spanish and non-English signage and advertisements is to hear objections to the world in which I grew up. It sounds like they are objecting to my friends.

It is not a very far jump from boycotting businesses and defacing billboards to throwing rocks through windows and attacking store owners. Should restaurateurs refuse to serve people who speak Spanish while they are eating? Should Telemundo, Telefutura, and Univision be shut off the air? Should foreign-language newspapers be banned? Should we have education camps for non-English speakers?

This sounds like fascism. Yes, I am saying that, Fascism. Does Krystalnacht ring a bell? To get rid of all non-English advertising and signage would take an effort much like that. There are too many people in this country, citizens, immigrants, residents, visitors, and tourists, who enjoy speaking their native tongue or the language of their parents and grandparents to make the enforcement of English possible through boycotts and nasty letters alone.

If anyone wants to get ahead in this country, they are going to have to know English. But if they want to increase their customer base, it won't hurt to learn any other languages that happen to be in use in their neighborhood, or for that matter, the languages of any tourists or foreign visitors (such as students) that may come through their neighborhood. Market forces will lead to a common language being used. That is the history of language. Sure, we could force English Immersion on them, but the vehemence with which this message of "English first" is being spewed does not convince me that it would be done in a helpful and supportive way.

Furthermore, language is the preserver of a culture. Different languages, and different cultures, have different ways of seeing things, different values, different tastes, different aesthetics. Having a variety of cultures gives us a variety of ways of looking at the world and a variety of choices in dealing with the world. Just as you would want to eat different foods at different times of the day, it is beneficial to have the availability of different outlooks on the world. You may find one day that what you have learned is not helping you with your current situation. If there is someone else who has a different outlook with you, they might be able to provide a solution.

I find that permission and support of variety and diversity is a strong unifying influence. It is the promotion and effectiveness of that ideal that has carried these United States through a Civil War and a couple of World Wars (despite the hypocrisy of the sentiment at the time, what with things like Jim Crow laws, Japanese-American internment camps, Indian reservations, etc). There are few things that will anger a person like saying they cannot do something that they enjoy doing. One's right to say something, in any language they choose, seems far more worth fighting for than forcing people to speak only one language.

That psuedo-Aristotlean statement above does not hold true when you notice that ancient Rome, a society that was very tolerant and diverse, lasted for a thousand years, while the 3rd Reich, a society defined by its intolerant unity, barely lasted a decade.

So it's quite possible that this debate inspired my dream of fatal stabbing in a fight under a map of the US in which several mid-American states were given back to the Native Americans. I have no idea why Woody Allen was in there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dreamed up Sitcom Script

In the half-wakefullness of the morning, this scene from a sitcom came to me...

Bill and John are sitting at their usual coffe shop table talking about the date John went on last night...

Bill: So how did the date go?

John: Well, she cooked for me./

Bill: Not so bad...

John: She works the 7-midnight shift at the diner. (laugh)

Bill: Oh. Well how was it?

John: Well, she was only bad at two things - cooking and serving. (laugh)

Bill: How could she be bad at serving?

John: Well, you know how you usually serve food on a plate?

Bill: Yeah...

John: She didn't. (laugh) I'm just lucky that dish was on the same side of the planet as the food. (laugh) As it was I had to buy a new shirt after dinner. (laugh)

Bill: Well it's a nice shirt...(laugh)

John: You like it? Kinda costly but the fabric is very soft...(laugh)

Bill: It's so hard to get a good soft shirt these days. (laugh)

John: Tell me about it. (laugh)

Bill: So the night wasn't a total loss, then. (laugh)

Hey, this sitcom writing stuff ain't so hard...

Unique Way to Sponsor my Grappling Movie

Hey folks, I got an idea that I hope will make sponsoring this movie fun and exciting!

As you should know by now, "Redemption" is being screened at the NY State Grappling Championships this Saturday, July 17th in Fishkill, NY. Well, I've been inspired by walk-a-thons to set up a plan that will encourage me to fight harder than ever before!

All you have to do is decide on an amount of money you would like to pledge for every point I score in the tournament. Then, when the event is over, I will post the video of the matches, and you can see all the points I score. Then you can go to Indiegogo.com and donate your pledge. You will notice that each pledge there comes with a collection of "perks" commensurate with your level of contribution.

Now I have a 2-32-2 record in competition and I don't think I have scored even as many as a dozen points in my entire career, but I have been working out, training, and improving, as you can see by this video...

...so you are taking a gamble by pledging here. Can you handle it?

The minimum pledge is 25 cents a point. And just to put as little more competition in, the person who pledges the most will receive a copy of the preview DVD screener, a copy of the finished movie, and a copy of the all-original soundtrack CD once it is all done!

Here's the way scoring will work at the tournament, according to the rules posted at the Acom Sports website:

Scoring Points: To gain points for any move or position, the competitor (aggressor) must show clear control for a 3 second
count by the referee – this is the key in point scoring for ACOM-SPORTS – TOTAL CONTROL FOR 3 COUNT TO EARN POINTS

1. Takedown or Throw: Land on Top in Guard or Half Guard= 2 points Land on Top in Side Mount or Full Mount= 3 Points
Note: Points will be awarded separately for Full Mount after an additional 3 count of control.

2. Sweep with Legs (from Half Guard or Full Guard) or Arm Drag from Open Guard to Turtle: 2 points (must hold for 3 count to
be awarded). NOTE: Inversions (Power Rolls from Side, Full or North/South are NOT considered Sweeps & will not awarded any
points or advantages

3. Passing the Guard (open or closed) - 3 points (must hold for 3 count to be awarded points) – MUST CLEAR ARMS & LEGS

4. Mounted position (both knees on the ground): 4 points (must hold for 3 count to be awarded)

5. Back Mount with Leg Hooks (or Knees on the Ground with Opponent Flat on his Stomach): 4 points (must hold for 3 count to
be awarded)

In addition, for the purpose of this pledge drive, if I win by points, that's worth 5 points plus points scored in the match.
Should I get so lucky as to win by submission, that will count as 10 points, plus points scored in the match.

Thanks in advance, those of you who will be contributing. I look forward to doing my best and living up to the confidence you have put in me!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On TV this morning! Redemption movie screening next weekend!

This is an old post that I had left in "draft" form. I am publishing it now because I want to.

Hello friends, I’ve got some big new! I’m on TV again this weekend, my movie is screening next Saturday, and I ACTUALLY WON A GRAPPLING MATCH! ON CAMERA!

First off, the TV show “Toni On! New York” is rebroadcasting its episode of “Weird New York” in which they visit the Big Apple Comic Con and interview Yours Truly, Captain Zorikh, and display cartoons I drew of the Toni On! Team as superheroes. Tough I did not find out about this until just now, you can tune in (or set your VCR or TiVo) at 11:30 AM tomorrow morning, Sunday, July 11.

Next, that grappling movie I have been working on for the past year is having a big screening at the Acom Sports NY State Grappling Championships next Saturday, July 17th. I will be competing in this tournament, after which we will screen the movie. This will be at the Fishkill Recreation Center at 793 route 52 in Fishkill, NY. Registration begins at 8:00 AM, matches begin at 10:30 AM, and the movie will be shown when the matches are done, probably around 4:30 – 5:00 PM. For more info, go to http://www.acom-sports.net.

I’ve been editing the film down a bit, making it more concise, and also am going into the studio with the brilliant musicians Ash Gray and Jeff Webb to record a whole new soundtrack! You here's a rough demo of one of the new songs:

Finally, what makes next Saturday’s tournament especially exciting for me, is that all my hard work, training, and persistence has been paying off! In addition to being in some of the best shape of my life, I actually won a grappling match at the NY Submission Open two weeks ago! You can see parts of the match in this highlight video of the event:

So now we’ll see if I can pull out another win on the occasion of the screening of my movie!

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My dream this morning: Michael Jackson, dead bodies, zombies, and electrified fences at the beach

So I found myself looking at some photos I had taken of Michael Jackson (the late singer, not the alcoholic beverage expert) at a concert. I somehow wound up at a MJ concert. After the show, MJ was outside, near his car, doing something very special and personal for a fan (perhaps autographing a magazine, I forget) while a female TV entertainment new reporter was covering him. The reporter said “Michael, there are lots of your fans here. At the very least you could acknowledge them with a wave or something." MJ waved and smiled and the crowd cheered.

Bu the car was parked in a bad spot (loading ramp or something, maybe a truck was coming through, I forget) so it had to back down the street. MJ and the reporter followed (at this point in the dream I was like the camera of a TV show, watching, but not actually present). When the car got to the end of the street, Mj was getting in and the reporter gave him something (the pictures I had taken, I think) MJ was getting in at an awkward angle (facing the rear of the car) lost his balance and fell. The reporter tried to help, but was not sure that she should actually touch the men. , so she went looking for his bodyguards.

There was one not far away and he came over to help. At about this time in the dream I shifted from being non-existent to being present. I found a dead body in a doorway across the sidewalk from the car.

I’m not quite sure of the transition here, but somehow this made me think of zombies, as in the movie “Zombieland.” I got to thinking about failed methods of zombie prevention, specifically electrified fences at the beach. I thought back to how four drunk people riding a golf cart on a beach tried leaving the beach and wound up driving right into the electrified gate of the electrified fence. (Zap! Zap! Zap!). I went back in time just a little, to before that incident, and I was hanging out with the bunches of people on the beach behind the electrified fence that separated the beach from the city, but I realized that a crawling zombie could just crawl under the gate (the gate was higher off the ground than the rest of the fence).

This beach happened to be a half a block from the doorway where I had found the dead body. There was another doorway right next to it, and inside was an artist studio for an art school, with easels and paint all over the place. I’m not quite sure what happened there, but I was having a conversation with one of the art students as an occasional person went in and out.

Then I woke up.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My dream this morning: Video rentals, invisibility, alien Nazis, and Bayou Bushwhackers

My dream: morning of June 6, 2010:

I was a friend of the local video store, and they had a “rent 5 get one free” policy, but occasionally the manager would let me borrow a VHS tape for part of a day, and I would go lay back on a lawn chaitr on the sidewalk and watch it and takje a nap. One time, thoughI got back to the store and one of the other countermen was actually a little upset about me borrowing them, but checked with ththe manager by phone and foundout it was OK.

Somehow this turned into a movie where Ian McKellen plays an old Nazi undercover in America. I was at some sort of hotel/convention center where a big international conference was going on. A Sarah Douglas type was trying to catch me because I was sneaking around and really shouldn’t have been there. She had the power to turn invisible, and I discovered that so did I. This was fortunate because at one point I found myself without pants (hate it when that happens) and my blak t-shirt was just barley long enough for decency’s sake.The invisibility enabled me to escape, but it didn’t last forevere, and when two girls say me., I found out it had worn off.

I ran around a corner and somehow found some pants in time to duck into a large ballroom where the results of the US election were being announced, and the winner was the Ian McKellen Nazi. As the announcement was made, the picture of the Great Seal of the US and the slogan “Justice for All” and the Stars & Stripes banners were replaced by a picture of the guy in his uniform and hat and a slogan about the supreme rule of the dictator and banners of his symbol (much like a combination of McKellen’s “Richard III” and the Ridley Scott Apple Computer Super Bowl ad) appeared. I thought this was just wrong and started singing “America the Beautiful” real loud, and the Americans in the room (this was, after all, and international conference) started singing along (very “Red Dawn” like).

When we were done I started with “The Star Spangled Banner” and was hustled from the room. Somehow I escaped and would up in the Louisiana Bayou. It turns out that these Nazis were aliens from outer space, hey were about to attack this gathering of US resistance fighters, and we were preparing to resist. I was concerned with our level of fighting effectiveness as compared to regular troops. As everyone else was putting on helmets and hats with leaves stuck in them for camouflage (and I was struck by the image of all these people, their faces obscured by the leaves in their hats and helmets, around the bayou, getting in boats, cleaning their weapons, on the march, etc), I looked through the 3 camo outfits I had brought with me, which were hanging up in a densely packed rack of coats, jackets, and jumpsuits/coveralls), I had brought some Swiss alpenflage, some German fleck camo, and somehow I had gotten some hunter’s woodland camo (the kind that has actual leaves in the pattern). I pointedly remembered that I had no US woodland camo. I asked the local bushwhacker which pattern would be best for the area. We weren’t able to decide for sure (although it was thought that a one-piece jump suit might not be the best, rather a jacket-and-pants combination), but the Nazi aliens were about to attack…

…and then I woke up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Captain Z Competeing at Renegade Grappling League this Weekend!

Hey friends, if you have been following my Facebook announcements and YouTube channels (Captain Zorikh and CZRedemption) you know what’s going on this weekend. For the rest of you, here’s the news.

I have recovered enough from the injury I suffered at that grappling tournament where I won my first match to consider myself ready to re-enter the ring. I’ll be doing so on Sunday, April 25 (tomorrow) at the Renegade Grappling League even!

This went will take place at John’s boxing gym at 436 Westchester Ave in the Bronx. It’s just one block from the 3rd Ave-149th St. stop on the 2/5 train.

It will be a round-robin, open-skill level tournament (anyone at any skill level may compete with anyone else) divided into 6 weight divisions, with an open weight tournament also.

If you want to compete, it’s only $35 (the cheapest tournament fee around). Spectators are free, just walk right in.

There is an event announcement on Facebook with more details and I posted an event announcement on Going.com as well.

I hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it, wish me luck and safety!

Captain Z

Captain Zorikh GETS HURT!

Here's the video that explains that injury...

Monday, March 1, 2010

My first grappling victory!

I finally scored a victory in a grappling tournament match! And I am not going to feel bad about it! Here’s how it happened…

I had signed up for the Long Island Submission Tournament in Port Jefferson, NY some weeks ago, and had done what I could to train and prepare for it while editing my movie and working for the NY Comic Book Marketplace event. I had been watching instructional videos, drilling moves with the Twin Towers Wrestling Club, and reading up on Musashi’s “Book of 5 Rings. I had also competed in the Renegade Grappling League’s first tournament. I fought well there, but still failed to secure my first victory.

A friend of mine from Twin Towers was supposed to go with me, but when I called him early in the morning to catch the LIRR, he bailed, so I was there on my own. Several people recognized me from other tournaments that I had been at, though, such as NAGA and the NY Submission Shootout.

The event was held in a gymnastics school, and there was a pit filled with foam blocks. I swore that I if won a match, I would do a flip into the foam pit. In fact, I had been envisioning what I would do if I won all week, and this seemed just too outrageously perfect.

I realized once I was there, though, that I had forgotten my protective cup. This tournament did not have any dealers set up other than the refreshment stand, and the nearest sporting goods store was miles away. There was, however, and Karate/MMA school right across the street, the United Martial Arts Center. Their Shihan, Andrew Stigliano, was kind enough to help me out. They had a small store of martial arts and training supplies, and he gave me a brand new cup.

At this tournament I weighed in at 177.5 lbs, about what I weighed at the last one, and about what I’d expected. Due to the number of competitors and the structure of he tournament I was placed in a division defined as “middleweight, 168 – 177 lbs.” I signed up as a “beginner” (more than a novice, less than intermediate).

My record going in stood at 0-19-2.

There turned out to be four people in this division, and I had the first match. Not surprisingly, my opponent was short and stockier than me. I went into the match with the intention of “treading him down,” like Musashi says. We engaged standing, and I fought to push his head down, looking for a guillotine (something I had worked on). After a few moments of that, all I accomplished was being able to control the rate of descent after he got underhooks, and establish half guard with him on top of me. He passed the half-guard and moved into north-shout, going fo a choke which I blocked with my arm, but he crushed my shoulder into my chest, forcing me to tap.

I lost. My record now stood at 0-20-2

I do believe that is where an injury occurred. As I am typing this there is a pain in my chest that remains after the general soreness of the tournament has gone away. I will look into it later. But at the time my adrenaline was still up, and I was still ready to play.

The way the bracket was set up, they guy who beat me would fight the winner of the next match, and I would fight the loser. The match went on for the full five minutes and into overtime. Of course both competitors were totally gassed, so they held an “exhibition” bout between two teenagers to let them recover. I suggested that I could fight a bye or a gauntlet to match my opponent’s fatigue, but nothing came of it.

So my next match would decide the third-place finisher of the division. I was faced up with a fellow who must have been the smaller person in the bracket, meaning I outweighed him by almost 10 pounds. He was also about a foot shorter than me, but he appeared to have some cauliflowering on his ear and carried himself klike an experienced fighter, so I did not have any reason to expect, going in, that this match would turn out any differently than any other match I had ever been in.

Again I went for pushing down his head, treading him down, and again he achieved the top position in the takedown.

Sadly the guy holding my camera only got the first two seconds of the match, and a lot happened, so I’ll try my best to reconstruct it here.

I found myself on my knees defending the neck from a guillotine choke. I couldn’t feel any slack to get our either side, but he spun around to take my back faster than I could spin with him. I kept a tight hold on at least on of his arms the whole time, and looked to dump him over my shoulder (one of the first tricks I learned, but I recognized that the grip he had on my left arm would put him in a great place for an arm-bar, so I was being very cautious about it. He got leg hooks in. I tried clearing one leg out, and he tried flattening me out. Neither of those things worked. He pulled me back, and was working on the rear naked choke, when the referee called time out.

Apparently there was blood coming out of a cut on my head. While they were getting something to staunch it with, I asked the guys at ringside how it looked, and they said it looked pretty horrendous, so I chanted “ECW! ECW!”

We restarted in the same position. He was able to get his right arm around my neck and was in the process of locking his left arm over my head, when I remembered the defense for that (something they taught at Renzo Gracie’s the month I was there). I pulled his left arm down over my shoulder and attempted to get a submission lock on his elbow.

I didn’t get the lock in, but the distraction gave me a chance to adjust my position in his leg hooks. I forced myself around to face hi, and thought that I would then me in his guard, but he didn’t close his legs around me, allowing me to attack him from something side-mount-ish. I grabbed one arm, his friends warned him to watch out for the arm-bar. I switched to the other side, and as I tried to put knee on belly to take mound, he grabbed my left leg with the intention of an ankle submission.

Something switched on at that moment in my brain. I don’t like leg submissions. They are fast, painful, dangerous, and at my skill level, not used often. From my limited experience with them I knew that I had to get moving, quickly, in order to save my leg, and that’s when I realized, this is a fight. This is not a show, an exhibition, a practice roll, or a cooperative exercise, this person is trying to do things to my that could break me, and the only way to make him stop, is to do it right back to him. Suddenly the time lag between thinking of a move and doing it disappeared, and each move was done with more strength than before.

I extracted my leg and found myself over him as he turtled. I spun to take his back. He semi-blocked me but I was able to get my left arm around his neck. I stuck my right leg into his leg (gaining a hook) and pulled him back. As I fought for the other leg hook, I remembered a training video that showed rear naked choke technique. Rather than grabbing my bicep and swinging my forearm down behind his head (easy to block), I slid my right hand over my left as I snaked it behind his neck until my right bicep reached my left had. That was probably the best rear naked choke I have ever applied.

I realized then that I actually had a chance to with this thing. This was a realization, and a sensation, I had never had before. All I had to do was keep on squeezing tighter…and tighter…and then I felt that gentle tapping on my left shoulder.

I won! My record now stands at 1-20-2! The streak is over!

I jumped up, raised my hands in the air and shouted “First win ever!” I turned to give my opponent a hug, and he had turned away. I felt kind of bad about that, but the ref turned him around and I hugged him and shook his had.

Then, as I promised, I ran to the foam pit and did a Geronimo flip in. High-fives and congratulations all around. I recorded a little piece for my YouTube channel and looked for the guy I defeated so I could shake his had again and tell him how much this victory, first after 22 tries, meant to me. I couldn’t find him. I kind of felt bad about that.

But wait a minute here. Yes, I was a foot taller than him. I outweighed him by almost ten pounds. I’d had a short match and a long rest; he’d had a long match and a short rest. These were all advantages for me.

But I am certain that he trains more often than me, fights more often than me, and has less bodyfat. The order and matching of the bouts was essentially random. Having the endurance to do multiple matches in short order against different sized opponents is part of the game.

So dammit, I am not going to feel bad about winning!

One final thought: Earlier in the day there were kids’ matches, and some of the kids took losing pretty hard. I was speaking with the fellow next to me and he said there is no reason to get upset about losing, because you always learn something from losing, you never learn anything from winning. I told him I’d have to get back to him on that. Well, here’s what I say: I did learn some things from winning. I learned that I knew how to execute a rear naked choke. I learned that I have a fighter’s mentality when I want to. I learned what it felt like to win, and that is what a successful redemption is about. You take everything that you have, that you are, that is inside of you, and you cash it in and find out what you are worth. It feels good to know that you have what it takes to get what you want.

Now I have another tournament next week, the Long Island Grappling Challenge. Let’s see if I can get that second win, and get it on camera this time!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Renegade Grappling League tournament report: Why I am glad I saw "Avatar" the night before

On Saturday I was not sure that I would go to the Renegade Grappling League tournament the next day, but then I saw Avatar (read my review of Avatar here), and that inspired me to go, and I am glad it did.

Avatar is about a man who finds something he had lost in learning the skills and lifestyle of an alien tribe. Without going into all the details (that’s for another time) let’s just say that his adventure mirrors my own in the world of submission grappling.

Specifically, the joy the hero, Jake, felt when experiencing the physicality of his alien avatar body felt much like the way I feel when experiencing the physicality of a properly executed grappling move, and I knew that the more I practiced and competed, the more I would get to feel that thrill.

Also the more Jake did with the tribe, the more he was accepted by them, and who doesn’t want to feel that acceptance?

So I trekked up to Johns Boxing Gym in the Bronx for the inaugural tournament of the Renegade Grappling League. It was a modestly-sized affair, with about a dozen or so competitors of various weights. It was set us as a round-robin tournament, with fighters getting multiple matches against other fighters in their weight bracket.

It was run by the good folks from Sadistic Athletics, who definitely allowed a sense of fun to pervade the afternoon. Most everyone there was more experienced, stronger, better conditioned, and shorter than me, which is pretty much par for the course wherever I go, but I was determined that no one would have more fun than me!

We fought in a boxing ring, so of course I had to mount the ropes and make like I was going to dive off before my first match. I was paired up against a short, stocky, quick wrestler guy who had fought one or two hard bouts already. He was not very aggressive in the opening, so I got to establish the clinch, but then he got a headlock on me and took me down into side control with an arm triangle. I pushed out of the triangle, and while I was bringing my leg in front of his face to go for the armbar, he stuck my arm between his legs and put pressure on the elbow, forcing me to tap pretty quickly.

Well, I generally get at least one short match like that in every tournament, so I guess it was just as well to get that out of the way quickly, so I would be fresh for my next bout.

I was paired with a guy about my height and about 10 lbs lighter than me for whom this was only his second competition. This match lasted the distance. In this event each match was three rounds of three minutes. Again I mounted the ropes, and by then I was beginning to win over the crowd. I had been chatting with the Sadistic Athletics people earlier about possible work involving my grappling movie “Redemption,” and a fellow who had been involved in the rehearsals of that movie was also there, and they all were shouting advice to me during the match. I followed the advice as best as I could.

In the match, I was able to control the takedowns so that my opponent wound up in a guillotine hold, though I was unable to complete the choke. I avoided several submission attempts, and escaped a rear-naked choke that almost got locked in. I almost got a toe hold/leg lock locked in, but not enough to make him tap. I escaped from under his half guard once or twice. I may have been “saved by the bell” at one moment (and in between rounds I almost spit water on someone accidentally), but when the last round came I laid it all out. I leaped off the second rope, the crowd was cheering, and rather than a handshake, my opponent and I high-fived.

I almost got the guy in an upside-down leg triangle and kimura, but he grabbed my shorts and pulled his head out. I wound up in his guard but stayed on top of him till the end of the fight. He almost arm-triangled me there, but I held out, then fought out, and was working on a kimura when the match ended.

The judges were not scoring by “points,” during the match, but did make decisions when no submission was scored. They said it was close, and in a split decision, gave the victory to the other guy. I have to agree with them, as it felt like he was on top of me, one way or another, through most of the match.

After the regular matches were concluded and the prizes awarded, there was an open-weight tournament. I was paired against the shortest, lightest guy in the tournament, a 135 lb. guy who can’t have been more that 5’3” tall. But he was a strong, , trained, ninjitsu fighter with great endurance and used to fighting folks bigger than him. I made the joke that it would be like Rey Mysterio fighting Kendall Grove. He fought in gi pants with no shirt, so I took my shirt off as well.

The match was scheduled for three minutes. My feet slipped on the mat at the first clinch, and after a brief struggle, he pulled guard. He attempted an armbar on me, which I stacked him out of. He was able to pull back to guard, and eventually went for another armbar. I had it defended, but he fell over and my elbow got pushed painfully sideways, so I tapped out at about 2:30.

So now my grappling competition record stands at 0-17-2. But I had fun, and I definitely won the crowd over. The Sadistic Athletic boys had, in fact, asked me to continue bringing the entertainment, which I did every time I entered the ring by standing on the ropes like a pro wrestler. I was appreciated for who and what I am, an entertainer who is learning skill as a grappler. I was, in fact, complimented on how well I did and how well I was taking instruction during the match. And that was the payoff I was looking for, and why I am glad I went to see Avatar the night before.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some thoughts about grappling vs. swordfighting

I have recently been attending the sessions at the Twin Towers Wrestling Club at the Hamilton Fish Rec Center here in NYC. Is part of the Parks Department activities, and there's usually about a 60-40 split between what I call "pin" wrestling and submission grappling/jiu jitsu. On a recent week I spent most of the session just going and going and going with a guy with unlimited energy and good skills. Then that weekend I put my armor back on and went to the local SCA armored swordfighting practice at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (first time in months).

On the grappling mat the other guy pretty much had the advantage on me all the way through. He was stronger and had better skills, and got me to tap out after hard matches almost every time. At the SCA practice, one of the better fighters there asked me if I had been training elsewhere because I was fighting very well. He said my shot selection was better, my targeting better, and basically I was fighting better than ever in the 3 or 4 years he has known me.

I can credit that to a few things. First off, I cannot discount that the particular fighters I faced happened to be of sizes, styles, and experience levels that were a good fit for me.

Also, I picked up Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of 5 Rings" for the first time in a long time recently, and after 23 years of armored swordfighting and three years of grappling, I actually started to understand it. Passages about "treading down the enemy" and not thinking to just let him attack and look for an opening made sense in the grappling arena. I then figured out how to apply it to swordfighting.

Grappling takes a lot of endurance, a different kind of endurance from swordfighting. In armor, when you are down to your last ergs of energy, you can focus everything you've got left into one last blow or combination, and if it fails, you can cover up and get out and wait out of range until you are ready to go again. In grappling you don't have that option. If you are tired, your enemy is already all over you and you get gradually worn out until you tap out.

I have seen many, many successful swordfighters that hardly look like athletes, but very few grapplers that aren't extremely fit.

Another key difference between the two sports is that swordfighting can end with one hard percussive shot. Boom. Done. Grappling by its definition is a progression of moves leading to a gradual sinking into a submissive position. But even with the differences in the game, there ares till similar principles and concepts. Aggression, taking the initiative, defending while looking for an opening, and training specific moves all are part of the ingredients of a successful fighter in either game.