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!