Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blogger Game - Q&A

As a link in a personal communication chain, Mushtaq Ali joined this blogger game (rules at the bottom) and I opted in. Hmm, I wonder if there is a way to use traceback to link all those responses? I bet there is, so I’ll ask someone more internet savvy like Mushtaq. It’d be fun to follow the progress of this thing in both directions.

Here, then, are the questions posed to me:

1.You were fortunate enough to be a longtime student of GM Angel Cabales, what is your favorite memory of him?

This is an easy one, a funny memory I can still see in my mind’s eye. I used to drive out to Stockton weekly to spend the day with Angel, usually arriving mid to late morning. Sometimes we’d work out a little, or run some errands, and frequently we’d go have lunch. One place we went often was Gertie’s Mabuhay Café, which was located in the old community center. It was the kind of place with history seeping from the picture-covered walls, and old men playing cards, talking or reading. Wednesdays were all-you-can-eat smorgasborg, and Angel would ply me with food until I was stuffed, then we’d go work out. Sneaky guy! Anyway, this one day we’re there and suddenly Angel stands up and in a loud voice announces “This is my student Jif (his pronunciation of my name) from Oakland and he says he wants to marry a Pilipina!” OH MAN! I slumped in my chair and said “Angel! NOOO! I just got engaged!” I felt like a tasty crumb at a picnic after the ants get the scent. Everybody, and I mean everybody, in the place got up and started coming towards our table. “I’ve got a niece in Manila ...” Darn, I could sure use his help now ... but anyway, he let me twist for a minute or two while he grinned, and then he said to everybody “Nevermind. He’s found somebody.” I got some congratulations and everyone went back to what they were doing.

2. Someone gives you a million dollars, what is the first thing you use it for?

A bit tougher, mostly because a million bucks doesn’t go very far these days. Of course, never having seen a million bucks, I’d be happy to find out, and I’ve certainly thought about this. I look around the world and I see so many problems, that money could be gone in a stroke of the pen. Knowing how hard people close to me are struggling, my choices would be charity close to home. There are also a few personal issues I would want to address, like paying off grad school debt. My house needs maintenance, some of which, like old carpets, might be contributing to my ongoing health problems. I haven’t taken a real vacation in over 15 years and there is someone in Kuai I think I’d like to visit; that one would probably stay on the wish list. All together, these would be perhaps 3% of the total. After that, I’d want to help my ex-wife, still a friend, who could use some seed money for a home or investment property. I have an ex-girlfriend with two kids (not mine!) and grad school debt; I’d want to help her too. My older siblings are struggling badly. My brother just had two major cancer surgeries this past month, and my sister has some degenerative physical conditions too. Rather than give them money outright, I’d want set up a trust so at least they’d have some stability. I’d also set something up for my mom, who has been the one helping them through these times. Finally, I’d put something in an education fund for my daughter and my two youngest nieces. If anything were left, maybe I’d try to get health insurance again for a year.

3. Everyone is excited to read the book you will write, what is it about?

Shoot. Everyone’s busting me on this one! I should get offline and lay off my flamenco guitar lessons … The book I want to write is, of course, about Serrada Escrima. There is so little available, and it isn’t really in-depth. Angel used to say he wanted a book that students could take to the park to use as a reference to train. What I want to do is a more detailed study, really write a technical analysis of the system. It’s in my head, I need to get it out on paper. Angel described a pocket booklet, so maybe I could include a quick guide with the complete book, like the ones that accompany the main user’s guides for electronics such as cell phones.

4. What is the best movie ever made?

Wow, this is the toughest question, because it’s so subjective and depends somewhat on genre. Best martial art movie? Best love story? Best cinematography? My choice combining all three is “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” First, I loved the story line, and it was beautifully filmed. The sword fighting was exciting and exceptionally well choreographed. The special effects were novel at the time, and though the actors seemed a bit unfamiliar with wire work in the early scenes, by the end it looked seamless. I loved the fact that the strongest characters in this film were women who could really do martial arts; to this day I cannot comprehend why Michele Yeoh didn’t receive even a nomination for best actress, because in my opinion her role carried the film, tying together all the other characters. Finally, on a purely personal level, this came along at a time in my life when I was going through some issues of loss, and the struggles and choices of the heroes and heroines resonated powerfully in me.

5. You discover you have the power to speak to animals, how do you explain humans to them?

Who says I don’t?!! I also don’t think animals need to have humans explained to them. They know us better than we know them. They have to live with the consequences of our impact on their world. Like other victims of oppression, they come to know quite well the moods and nuances of those who control them. Domestic animals shape themselves by conforming to our structure and whims, while wild animals try to avoid us. Animals live in a world dominated by instinct and emotion. It is highly experiential, grounded in past memory, expressed in present time. Perhaps the biggest difference between animals and humans is a lack of future consciousness. Except for simple things like anticipating dinner, they don’t really think ahead. Even something like knowing it’s time to migrate with the seasons is in awareness of present changes. Don’t underestimate animal consciousness, though. They might not have our powers of reasoning, but by the same token they are less likely to conflict themselves. For them, feeling and response are directly linked, and this flow is a goal humans strive to recapture through things like meditation and martial arts. I guess I’ve turned this around to explain animals to humans, but then we’re the ones reading this, and we’re the ones who need to find the compassion to understand those over whom we hold the power of living or dying. In a sense, animals exist as metaphors for our own inner selves, expressed as archetypes or totems. The more we understand their needs, the clearer we will see the effects we have on all life on this planet. Maybe then we can start to understand ourselves as well.

Here's how you can play the interview game:
1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me." The first five commenters will be the participants.
2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)