In the name of God, here's looking forward to a single, unified Orthodox Church of the United States.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No 'Poo Update

My hair feels amazing! I'm shocked at how quickly it returned to normal. It helps that I have wavy hair, but, seriously, I was so pessimistic.

I'm going to continue my twice weekly schedule through the end of May, then I'll cut it down to once weekly - probably on Sunday mornings. I may have to go through another period of adjustment, but it shouldn't be too bad.

After that, I'll just keep on keeping on until my shampoo runs out, then I'll start using baking soda. I'm still unsure if I want to give up commercial conditioner for apple cider vinegar, though. My hair tangles so easily when it's wet. I think that'll be my next experiment.

Peace

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Seven Samurai"

There comes a time in one's movie-viewing existence when one knows one has seen greatness. While I watched "Seven Samurai" (directed by Akira Kurosawa) I knew I'd reached that point. Without giving away too much, there was very little about this movie I didn't like. The story is set in Japan in 1587/88 and begins with a poor peasant farmer accidentally overhearing a gang of bandits deciding whether to attack his village. Some of the bandits want to attack it right away, but the leader remembers that they had already stolen all these peasants' rice last year, so it would be more productive to wait until the barley is harvested and threshed before attacking it again. When the peasants learn of this, they are terrified and angry; some want to fight, others want to beg the bandits for mercy when they come. The village elder decides in favor of fighting, since losing their barley would almost certainly mean starvation. Thus, four of the peasants must go to the city to find "hungry samurai", who will put their pride away and defend them for nothing but food - a difficult task in an age when honor meant everything to the samurai. The story goes on from there to include them finding the warriors and defending the village.

The acting is impeccable. I found Kikuchiyo's (played by Toshiro Mifune) performance to be particularly stunning. The director spared no expense with the set, either. An entire mountain village was actually built in the mountains for authenticity's sake. The peasants have their dirty clothes and grovelling manners, while the samurai stand tall and proud. Like I said, there is very little I didn't love about this movie.

Points:
  • Be aware that the movie is three hours long. I didn't realize it was so lengthy and had to stop at intermission (oh yes, it has an intermission), while I went out to do laundry, or it wouldn't have gotten done.
  • There are also some cultural differences which audiences may find uncomfortable, such as the classic Japanese underwear - there were no boxer shorts anywhere in 1587 - which displays most of the buttocks. Kikuchiyo has many scenes in which the majority of his costume is only a breastplate and this underwear - as well as one in which he wears no breast plate. I would have to say, though, that it's entirely cultural, there was nothing gratuitous or distasteful about it, that just seemed to be part of their common dress. Parents, it's up to you to decide if you think it's appropriate for young children.
  • A few swear words, nothing major, may also have to be reviewed by parents. Either there were no movie censors in Japan equivalent to ours at the time, or the translators took liberties with the subtitles.
  • Near the end, it is implied that one of the village girls loses her virginity to the youngest samurai and her father makes a huge scene when he finds out, calling her names like "slut" and "tramp". On the flip side, the other samurai joke with their young comrade, telling him that "Last night, you became a real man". Another parental review point.
  • As for the violence, I found that to be the usual '50s style: no visible wounds, no blood, several people are shot with arrows, but, overall, entirely palatable.
Overall, this is a move about honor and integrity. I give it a full five stars, something I never do lightly.

The trailor:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Japanese St. Michael

I know iconography isn't about the art itself, but this has got to be one of the coolest renditions of St. Michael defeating the dragon ever. I love traditional Japanese art.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Praying for the World"

This post by Father Stephen is particularly appropriate for my current emotional and spiritual situation, my fear of dependence, and my fear and hatred of the corruption of power. I literally cannot pray (at least, with any sincerity) for certain people or groups right now because my hatred of them is so great. The most I can hope to achieve at this point is a lessening of that hatred and a growth in understanding and compassion.