Thursday, August 6, 2009
We have updated and upgraded the Bonzuko blog: it's now found at http://bonzuko.com. All the past posts you have enjoyed before now are there, as will be all the new posts. So go there, refresh your subscriptions, all that jazz. It's a new day for Bonzuko!
We hope to see mamy astute and intellingent comments on our new site. Thanks for your readership, and we'll see you there!
~Jenn & Jas
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Oh, wait, let me explain:
Star Wars Uncut is a project you can see here--basically, what these insane geniuses did was divide Star Wars: A New Hope into 15-second increments. Web crawlers then could claim a scene, re-film it themselves, and upload it. What will result is a giant Internet-produced quilt version of the film.
Since I was teaching a lightsaber class this summer--well, perfect project for class members, eh? Little did we know how many freaking moves there can be in a 15 second space!
Here's our entry: (sound isn't perfect but surprisingly close!) ~Jenn
Monday, August 3, 2009
Whew. Let me begin my explanation with a Mamet quote (from the abovementioned piece):
“As long as the protagonist wants something, the audience will want something. As long as the protagonist is clearly going out and attempting to get that something, the audience will wonder whether or not he’s going to succeed. The moment the protagonist, or the auteur of the movie, stops trying to get something and starts trying to influence someone, the audience will go to sleep.”
As long as an action fulfills the protagonist’s objective, then it’s a strong choice. If it’s merely interesting and only interesting, it will not actually be interesting to the viewer. The same holds true for writing: the minute a writer stops writing beautiful, interesting prose and concerns herself with “what do I want” (Rule 1), she will begin to write gripping works of whatever genre. Mamet calls this “uninflected” which I love as a term for this idea of unadorned, simple, compelling work.
How does this relate to warriorship? In the martial arts, it’s easy to fall into what I call the “coolness” trap; it’s the same trap both actors and writers fall into. It’s irresistible to the ego to write interesting stuff; to be interesting onstage: in other words, to appear cool. The ego doesn’t want to look boring or plain, it wants to look cool. It seems contrary that the least interesting choice is actually the strongest, and that the less information you give a reader/audience, the better they will get into the story. The exact same thing happens to a martial artist: we see so much over-the-top action in films that looks so cool: wire-fu, elaborate long fight sequences, sleek catsuits, macho setups for sport fighting like cages. The problem for the artist’s ego is that the really cool-looking stuff of martial arts is in fact the least effective in a real fight. Same for an actor, same for a writer. And now I’m writing this, it occurs to me that we could probably say this for any art form…
The Three Rules For Warriorship:
1) What do I want? (Objective) –do I want to attack or defend myself? Do I want to cause harm? What specifically do I want to do, physically? How do I want the fight to end?
2) What do I do to get what I want? (Tactics) –What actions specifically do I need to achieve my objective? Weak or waffly (or “cool”) choices here will fail, in a much more obvious way than just a mediocre performance or piece of writing. In a martial arts situation, a weak tactic leads to a smack in the head or even a fatality (or a lost match, if we’re talking sport martial arts).
3) What stands in my way? (Obstacles) –is my opponent’s guard up? Armor or weapons involved? Are there innocents anywhere? Is the law on my side? Is the space restricted, either physically or otherwise?
What’s the conclusion here? That good art should be “uninflected, … requiring no additional gloss” (Mamet again). Keep it simple. Which, of course, is the most difficult thing about mastery. For more of Mamet's words of wisdom, check out his book On Directing.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Here's the scene we're trying to recreate:
Are we close? :)
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Based on some Fantasy novels by Terry Goodkind, Legend of the Seeker plays on TV like a delightful combination of Ren Faire and a good D&D game. Our triumvirate (Richard the young Seeker, Kahlan the Confessor and old Zeddicus the Wiz) move from one unrealistically clean and diverse medieval village to the next on their way to stop the melodramatically evil Darken Rahl, saving the day each time as they go on. Now this may sound like not a high-quality show as I describe it here, lovely lurkers, but actually this formulaic, archetypical structure is quite pleasing. The script moves from predictable to cheesy to melodramatic, but in a good way, and the acting is actually decent, not only by our main three, but all the extras we encounter each episode. And it's sexy, but in a family-friendly way.
Of course, the main reason why we at Bonzuko like to watch Legend of the Seeker is its fight scenes. The Seeker is known for wielding the Sword of Truth (which really looks like it was made by Starfire. Anyone know if this is true?), so there are many swordfights each episode. They are all very well choreographed, filmed in a stop-and-slow-motion style that actually (when the channel itself is running smoothly) makes the action easier to watch than if it were in real time. All the actors that fight look like they do a generous portion of their own stunts, and look too like they have worked hard to look awesome as they do so.
The other thing that makes Legend of the Seeker stand out as far as its stunt fighting is the inclusion of female warriors, not as bystanders that may or may not have a vase handy when the bad guy's head gets close enough to her hiding place, but actually fighting right alongside their male counterparts. Kahlan wields not a sword, but a pair of daggers (often reverse-grip. Yeah!) as well as her magic power. But even female secondary characters that get caught up in the Seeker's quarrels are not bystanders but hold their own. I'm reminded specifically of a recently-shown episode wherein the Seeker is handcuffed to a young woman and has to fight several guards to escape. They both use their manacles and unarmed prowess to save themselves. Again, some creative choreography (mainly by Steve McQuillan).
Here's the Season 1 recap from Hulu. Minor spoilers, but you'd be able to predict these "twists" anyway, right? http://www.hulu.com/watch/74157/legend-of-the-seeker-season-1-recap
Anyone who enjoys light, enjoyable fantasy fare and/or good stage combat should catch Legend of the Seeker whenever they can.
Bottom line: **** out of *****
Thanks to this site for the image.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Thanks to Lifehacker for mentioning this today, and for the link.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Craig FergusonÃ¢Â€Â™s brilliant analysis of Ã¢Â€Â˜Why everythingÃ‚Â sucksÃ¢Â€Â™ EW.com
Shared via AddThis. Image from this site.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Image from this site.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
- I always wondered whether it was odd to not be able to hear the anchors back in the studio, to only hear one end of the banter. It was.
- How exciting was it to see that big antenna outside just for us! The guys were delighted, and passersby were curious.
- Facebook is a weird thing: Chris and I felt like we had already met. Though the hair is even more fantastically shellacked in person, Chris!
- Learning about what goes into the structuring of a spot like this: how many teasers of what kind, what kind of timing and balance is necessary, and having lucid improv skills to be clear and quick!
- Noticing how much attention Chris pays to his surroundings, and how he builds the things he discovers into his bits. I'm willing to give him some honorary ninja points for this.
- It reminded me of an audition: you prepare for a long time, have a lot happening, and when it's over, you're like: um, what just happened? I think it was good. I should have...
- The three bits were so short that about half the things I wanted to plug or do or say didn't get in. But what was in was super fun. Thanks for the book plug!
- Good job, students, for keeping up the energy since 5 (some of you since 1!)pm. Good hair acting, Nate and Scott M.
- Images from the evening's fun, Jenn's phone version.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thanks to i09 for alerting me to what will no doubt be hilarious fun. Gosh darnit...
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Enjoy this vid, lovely lurkers, and thanks again to Mr. Berry and i09.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.
--Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
Back in acting school, we learned a magic Three Rules that we were to adhere to whenever we performed a new character (which was often a couple times a week). No matter how big a role, the Three Rules for Actors worked to make a performance authentic, dynamic, and compelling.
In acting, when you play a mood, you dissolve instantly into sham. Mood spelled backwards is Doom for the actor. In other words, if you “play sad” you will seem false and cheesy to an audience. If you play a verb, if you play an objective, you’re playing an action instead of an emotion.
Three Rules for Actors:
“What do I want?” (objective)
“What do I do to get what I want?” (tactics)
“What stands in my way?” (obstacles)
Actors ask these three questions of themselves as the character they’ve been assigned, and often will write verbs in the margins of their scripts (tactics = action words) to guide them along the scenes. Any story can be boiled down to this formula. A character does actions to get their objective. When one action doesn’t work, they’ll try another. And the audience will want to know what they’ll do next, and if they’ll end up achieving their objective. When the character either achieves their objective, or discovers it can’t be achieved, the story is over. A new objective is a new story.
These three rules, though taught to actors, I have found to be essential in the understanding of story structure. A writer can ask their protagonist these three questions and the narrative nearly writes itself. Ray Bradbury probably never heard the Actor’s Rules, but his story-writing instructions are a direct reiteration of the objective/tactics/obstacles formula:
Find a character, like yourself, who will want something or not want something, with all his heart. Give him running orders. Shoot him off. Then follow as fast as you can go. The character, in his great love, or hate, will rush you through to the end of the story.
This formula works for anything narrative—fiction, non-fiction, or (obviously) drama. Poetry is about image and sound, so it doesn’t go by the Actor’s Rules. But anything that has events, things happening, a central character (even the writer-as-narrator of a personal essay) has added dynamism and a clean plot if the Three Rules are kept in mind.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It's Jenn's only foray into the world of the slackline. Very very difficult. The class was called Yoga Rocks! at the Auraria Rec Center, and was a mix of yoga and rock climbing. That day, they added the slack line to the mix. A very cool combination.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Twilight of Teenage Literature --Katherine Pivoda
Twilight, a young adult novel rife with vampires and fog, has recently been converted into a shockingly popular movie, and a sequel to the book just announced a first printing of one million: not bad, when one considers the sheer banality of the books and their subject matter. Twilight is a formidable foray into the world of bad literature, and its popularity is only a reflection of the lowered aesthetic standards American teenagers have today.
Conceptually, Twilight just plain fails. Although the plot is fairly straightforward, Stephanie Meyer’s vampires are designed to be fun, fairly innocent creatures. While they do crave blood, they drink animal blood as opposed to human blood. They glitter in the sunlight. Their skin is always cold. They run incredibly quickly and have super-human abilities, such as ESP. Perhaps only an old fashioned fuddy-duddy could let this clash with more traditional, romantic, Anne Rice-esque vampires, but this new conception of sparkly, friendly vampires is disconcerting, to say the least. As Lisa Schillinger asks in the New York Times, “What subversive creature could dream up a universe in which vampires…put marriage ahead of carnage on their to-do list?” Only those in Stephanie Meyer’s world: a world that cruelly robs traditionally seductive creatures of everything that makes them the ultimate monster. In Twilight, there is no overt sexuality, or any of the trademark vampiric traits that make vampire novels worth reading in the first place.
Character development is another crucial thing Twilight lacks. The premise of the story is simple: an adolescent girl (Bella), feeling emotionally abandoned by her mother, moves to a small town in Washington to live with her father. It is there she meets and falls in love with a teenage vampire (Edward). Throughout the novel it is inexplicably difficult to like either Bella or Edward. As the narrator of the novel, Bella is a depressed teenager with a major martyr complex, which is as far as her emotional depth goes. Edward makes no sense as a character: his train of thought is choppy and illogical, and no matter how much love he professes to he is still cold and aloof. While Meyer tries to play off his emotional distance as a vampiric symptom, as the book progresses it is obvious this is just a bad author trying to hide her sub-par writing skills by making excuses for her poorly-thought-out characters.
Twilight’s final flaw is one many young adult novels fall into: a shocking lack of realism. Most book lovers are more than willing to suspend their disbelief for young adult lit. Harry Potter, after all, is loved the world over. However, each character in Twilight is a caricature: over-exaggerated and under-developed. Even the weather in the novel is too typical and telling, an obvious foreshadow that only makes the reader wince. Twilight’s lack of subtlety is astounding, given that so much of the book rests on the simple idea of a girl falling in love and discovering love is flawed. The heavy hand, lack of depth, and sheer banality of much of the book detracts from this valid and archetypal story arch.
Ultimately, Twilight is an exploration of what a good young adult novel shouldn’t be: unsatisfying, poorly thought out, and not at all deserving of the hype. Unfortunately, Twilight (and with it the tacky teenage fans in black T-shirts) seems to be here to stay. And the unfortunate reflection on American youth that inevitably accompanies it? One can only wince.
Schillinger, Lisa. “Children’s Books/Young Adult.” The New York Times 12 August 2007. 7 June 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/books/review/Schillinger7-t.html?_r=1.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
They asserted that “it’s precision of movement that wins a fight” and that Ms. Toughill (one of the fighters) uses her hips to generate force. The core, they said, is what makes movement powerful. However, when they did one sequence, I did call BS: Ms. Toughill punches an overweight volunteer crewmember in the stomach, and he's still standing pretty solid. Sure, she had boxing gloves on, but still: you're telling me that an experienced MMA fighter punches a non-experienced, non-fighter belly and...nothing? Hm.
Erin Toughill Fights
I came across this link from good friend Ricky on facebook. This illustrates the very real power of the clown, even in today's society. And think about this--those clowns could have actually gotten hurt. Racist neo-Nazis aren't messing around with their hatred. Anyone know if there's a video of this event out there somewhere? I'd dearly love to see these clowns in action.
Check it out here. ~Jenn
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
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Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Images found by doing a Google Image search for "Wilkins" and "Kermit," respectively. Jim Henson was a genius.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Well we've been having lightsaber class now for a few Thursdays--the Advanced Stage Combat students have learned quite a few moves, and now today they were ready to start putting the movement "words" they've been practicing together into "sentences." The choreography has begun! Here's a sample: Boaz and Nick doing the drill with circular footwork.
Still image is Scott M. and Nate blurry with Jedi motion, from 6/18/09. Vid clip is Nick and Boaz doing the drill. So sorry you were mis-named at first publishing, fellas. Jenn's bad.