Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet Wayne Turley, Emily Kane's Friend [Go No Sen]

Why don't you tell us your name and where you’re from?

I’m Wayne, Wayne Turley. I was born here in Virginia, and always lived in the same house. So I guess I’m from here in Warm Springs. I don’t think I’ve ever even left the state. Well, I suppose I’ve been to DC a couple of times with my Dad to go to football games and basketball games, and I’ve been to Annapolis once to see all the fancy boats and the Naval Academy. But other than that, I’ve hardly gone anywhere. I think the same goes for my parents. They were born here too. My dad used to travel a lot on business; he was an insurance salesman before he died. My grandparents live near Virginia Beach.

If you don’t mind, can you tell us what you remember about your dad?

I was a kid when he died, just eight years old, so I don’t remember everything. He was really big, I remember that. He would play ball with me. He could throw a football like a mile, same with a baseball. We used to play basketball and he would go easy on me, you know, ‘cause he could like dunk a basketball anytime he felt like it. Here’s the thing I remember maybe the most: he would pick me up and carry me places, maybe put me up on his shoulders and I would be so high. At parades and crowded places, I could always see everything really well. I really miss that feeling. I’m a lot bigger now, you know, and the idea that someone could pick me up, well that’s not really likely anymore.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Danny Rincon, Emily Kane's Friend (Go No Sen)

Tell us your name and where you’re from.

My name is Danny Rincon. I was born here in Virginia, but my dad grew up in northern California, and his dad came from Argentina. I have cousins in California still, but I haven’t seen them in a few years. My dad says we have cousins in Argentina, in Rio Negro in a town called Viedma, but I haven’t ever met them or gone down there. Some day, I’d like to go there, see my family.

How about your mother’s family?

They’re from San Francisco. My grandparents still live there. My uncle died before I was born. He was a Marine in Beirut and was killed in a bombing. My mom doesn’t like to talk about it. I think that’s kinda why we haven’t been back to California in a while, all the memories, you know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yoga, Meditation and Christianity

Since I'm on the subject of meditation, a question has arisen recently in several places across the web, and even in broadcast media, about whether Christians can, in good faith, practice yoga. Obviously, how we answer depends on what we mean by "practice yoga" and especially on what we mean by "in good faith."

The most straightforward answer would be that to the extent that Yoga is directed at enlightenment independent of grace it is incompatible with Christian faith. This may seem like a particularly Catholic answer, and Christian sects that think about the role of grace differently may come up with a slightly different explanation. But I don't think that there are any sects that will find yoga acceptable as a form of spiritual aspiration.

One might still ask whether practicing yoga is acceptable to Christians simply as a form of exercise. Here it is tempting to imagine that a mere exercise (just stretching and breathing) could not be objectionable to Christian faith. But there are two reasons to think otherwise.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bodhidharma and Kung Fu

There are lots of stories told about the relationship of the martial arts developed at the Shaolin temple (sometimes known as the "young forest temple") in Henan province and Bodhidharma. Many of them may be apocryphal, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to learn from them anyway.

New Cover art for Go No Sen

OMG! Just got the new cover for Go No Sen. I think it looks tremendous. You can see there on the left before the cover for Sen No Sen. It was done by James Junior, who seems to have been inspired by the task of creating the kanji for the title. He also created a wonderful image: a girl in a striking position, reminiscent of a Shotokan kata, perhaps Heian Yodan, against a beautiful sunset. He really seems to have caught the central themes of the book in this image: fighting (and all the ferocity that entails), but also the meditative side of martial arts that might help someone find a deep sense of identity.

James is starting a cover design business. Here's his website: Jimmy's Portfolio. He has more examples of his work here: graphic design projects for ebook covers . He can be contacted at this address,, or through his website. Thanks again, James, for all your hard work!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kung Fu

It turns out that kung fu does not really refer to a specific style of martial art, or even to martial arts at all. It means something like "the achievement of excellence" in some undertaking or other. You could have kung fu in baking or poetry or swimming or meditation, or even in martial arts. A more appropriate generic term for martial arts might be wu shu, which means something like fighting technique. English speakers are now used to associating kung fu with fighting, so perhaps one shouldn't try to change it now. But it is worth remembering that one can achieve excellence in other things as well.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Armed Forces Weekly Interview: Meet Emily Kane

Let’s get introductions out of the way. Tell us your name and where you’re from.

Michiko Tenno. Actually, my friends call me Emily, or Em for short. My dad’s name was Kane, so a lot of people know me as Emily Kane, and that name goes with some very happy memories for me. I was born in Japan, on a US military base. We lived for awhile in Hawaii when I was just a baby, but I mainly grew up here in Virginia.

Can you tell us about some of those happy memories?

I loved my dad very much. He was amazing. It’s kinda hard for me to get past losing him that way. But I suppose remembering happier times is a way of honoring him. We used to go camping in the woods behind the estate where we lived. We would pretend to be survivalists, you know, try to live off the land. It was only for two days at a time, so it was just for fun. You know, just an imaginary challenge. Though I did eat a bug once to prove to my dad that I could do it. We had so much fun in the woods. He taught me how to use all sorts of improvised weapons, like slings, arrows, spears, or just throwing rocks. It’s like we would do target practice when we were out camping, only more fun, you know, like a game. He was so good at stuff like that. I got to be pretty good at throwing and slinging. I think I can hit a small target with a sling at a hundred feet pretty regularly. But he could hit just about anything, even moving targets, with just about anything. He was so confident about stuff like that. Confidence is really important when you’re trying to hit something. It gives you a stable foundation, so to speak.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vampires & Werewolves: Why Can't They Be Friends?

I've been struggling to understand some aspects of the current fad in vampire fiction, including the rivalry with werewolves. Some things are easy to see, like the relationship of vampires and young love. Vampires have always been lovers, and especially seducers. The love that is practically indistinguishable from death is a marker for intensity. The whole bloodsucking thing is a transparent sexual allegory, including the bedroom eyes, the hickey, and the usual gender associations. In this case, the intensity of the passion is expressed by the lassitude  of the participants. The bloodsucker is sleepy because he's on a blood-bender, and the victim because, well, she's lost a lot of blood. What about the stake, the cross and the aversion to garlic? These are all icons of parental disapproval. The garlic is her mother's cooking, perhaps even a figure of her as a mother. The cross is the burden of parental responsibility the lovers risk incurring. The stake? That's obviously the greater sexual potency of her father, in the face of which the young vampire's urge seems to shrivel up and die, finally.

But why must vampires and werewolves be enemies? They are, after all, both unnatural monsters. So, what's the problem? Perhaps it's that the vampire is an image of dissolute desire, the aesthete, the rake. But your werewolf is more about ravenous desire, about eating, not drinking, about hunger rather than wan yearning. The werewolf seeks satiety in a feeding frenzy. In other words, he is indiscriminate in his desire. His is the desire that bears no scrutiny. This all leads to the conclusion that vampires hate werewolves because they think they are homosexuals. The vampire is a primal image of the narrowest form of homophobia.

Or maybe not. Perhaps I've completely misread this imagery. Let me know what you think.