Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday! J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly, insanely popular Harry Potter book series. Here again is Molly Ringwraith's hilarious parody for your enjoyment. No, I don't have a movie review, haven't seen it yet. Many happy returns of the day, Ms. Rowling. ~Jenn

Fight Clip Club

Ninja jump from the BQC. Keegan, you put your hand down. Does that count? :)

Come to NinjaFit Fridays if you want to learn stuff like this. ~Jenn

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday and Friday's Exciting Events

Thursday the 30th is the last day of the summer lightsaber class (sob). We'll be filming all our fights, though, so stay tuned and you can see the results of our 8-week session up here soon afterwards.
Friday the 31st is Test Night at the Boulder Quest Center. Highlights will include Jenn and Boaz's lightsaber fight, Kim & Jenn showing the groud flow, and of course much fun belt testing as usual. This will be the last test for Kim & Jenn before their Black Belt. Spiffy!

7/30: lightsaber class finale; 12"30-2pm; PE 103 on Auraria Campus
7/31: BQC Test Night; adults & youth testing + demos begin at 6pm
Images are Jenn and Kim in April's BQC test, and Jenn and Boaz creating their lightsaber fight, in class in June.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ninja Assassin

Here's the new trailer, full of super Matrix-esque, shuriken-flinging action. Looks like fun! Thanks to Boing-Boing for pointing the way to this site. "Insanely awesome," indeed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

National Cowboy Day

Sunday was National Cowboy Day--a day to celebrate the Western American icon we know and love so well here in Colorado. Of course, when we at Bonzuko think of cowboys, we think of staged bar brawls, whip work, and other skills "walk-around actors" still use in various live gigs. Ever been to the Silverton-Durango train trip? There are cowboys and wenches at each stop staging skits and fights. Last year's Denver stage combat seminar fest, the Rumble in the Rockies, was cowboy-themed.

One of Bonzuko's inspirations in the stage combat field is Dale Girard. He is one of a very few that the SAFD calls "Fight Master," and was Jenn's teacher's teacher, and still is a brilliant stage combat artist. One of the things he did back in the day (which was the inspiration for many of the stunt shows we did almost ten years later at the Colorado Renaissance Festival and elsewhere) is a Western-themed live stunt show, with his company On Edge Productions. Jenn actually still has a couple of the Western scripts from these shows, and it makes us wish we could have seen these!! Acrobatics, gunslinging, whip work, cowboy punches and bad jokes all abounded. It nearly makes Jenn want to round up the MSCD Stage Combat Club dogies and do it again! Anyone game?

Enjoy these images from On Edge Productions Western stunt shows from back in the mid-'80s. Pictured are Dale himself, along with his company performing the show "The Swell, the Not-So-Swell, and the None-Too-Cute" (had to correct the original spelling--sorry). Thanks to Dale Girard for permission to show off and celebrate these images documenting a great talent and inspiration for us still. Yee-haw!

R.I.P. Merce Cunningham

Just heard today that one of dance's greatest artists, Merce Cunningham, has passed away at age 90. He was one of the best movement artists ever, so take a moment today to appreciate his contribution to the movement arts.

What I appreciated most about Cunningham's dance way was his combination of classical style with a modern sensibility. He also had the coolest improvisation structures, and was a movement improv innovator. Check out this video clip from the '60s. I dig his use of tableaux (stillnesses) in this piece.

Image from this site. Vid from YouTube (do a Merce Cunningham vid search and find more cool stuff!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Review

TV review, actually. It's been a long time since we've done a review, and there has been much watching of media since the last one. There have been a few Bonzuko favorites in there, but one that has especially good stunt work is showing its first season over again this summer. It's called Legend of the Seeker.

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?

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.

Random Latin

ipso facto
- by the fact or the act itself.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Random Picture

Shuffle up the Pictures file, lurkers ours!'s....

Bonzuko's own Jenn being flung across the racquetball court by Glen! Old Genki Kai footage. From 2002 or 3ish.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Youth Sword Camp

I was happy to come down to the BQC for the last day of their Youth Sword Camp, to help with theatrical swordplay and making a movie with the kids. It was super-fun, super-tiring, very hot, and all kinds of great choreography today between 9 and 12. Good job, Sword Camp kids!

Image is Kate and Jane showing their favorite sword kamae.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Class Time Change

Anyone coming to the Boulder International Fringe Festival Stage Combat class, taught by Bonzuko's own Jenn, the time has changed. It's still August 15th, but now the class part will be 12-3pm, and a showing of our work at 4pm. It's ridiculously cheap--spread the word, and show up yourselves!

Do the Hindu

I'm all about the Hindu Pushup--we do them all the time in NinjaFit. But instead of how this guy does it, start in an actual Downward Dog, go slowly and get your nose as close to the floor as you can, then come up into an Upward Dog. And love the sweat! ~Jenn

Thanks to Lifehacker for mentioning this today, and for the link.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NinjaFit in the News (again)

Now let's get the students rolling in, folks!

Wonderful Speech by Craig Ferguson

This is such a great speech, lovely lurkers. If you didn't see it last night, here 'tis (in a Scottish accent). ~Jenn

Craig Ferguson’s brilliant analysis of ‘Why everything sucks’

Shared via AddThis. Image from this site.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conan Does it Again

With help. Here he is again with stuntman Steven Ho. Tell me he doesn't steal the bit me and Parente did on Channel 2.

Image from this site.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fight Clip Club

A rehearsal day from the lightsaber class: this is the 3-person fight: Scott J., Paul, and Nick. Mind, this is still rehearsal mode, lovely lurkers. ~Jenn

Random Latin

vice versa
- the order being changed; conversely.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Random Picture

A posed piece for MSCD Stage Combat Club Nick's BFA portfolio. Club meeting. Good times.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Parente Experience

Last night, the Summer Advanced Class (Lightsabers) was the subject of a liveshot on Channel 2 News. Anchor/Reporter Chris Parente came by and helped us show the world what we do. We watch Mr. Parente on his various Deuce and Channel 31 endeavors all the time in the Bonzuko home office, and so it was delightful to see how the whole thing worked on the other side of the TV screen. The class, which normally meets at 12:30, met at 5pm instead just for the occasion (special thanks to Joe Morales in Auraria's PE building for giving us lots of attention to make sure the space was ready for prime time).
Highlights of the event included:
  • 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.
Thanks again to Chris Parente and the Deuce team for celebrating the geeky goodness that is lightsaber class. ~Jenn

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bonzuko in the News

Any lovely lurkers who are in Colorado, tune in to Channel 2 News ("the Deuce") at 7pm tomorrow. You'll see the one and only Chris Parente doing a live story on the lightsaber class! Don't miss it! In fact, record it for Jenn!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


What a rhizomic world of writing the blogosphere is. Here is a link to a Stephen Hayes blog post that was actually mostly written (translated) by Kevin. We're all writing about ninjas, all the time... :)
Image is Jenn and Mr. Hayes at his most recent seminar at the BQC.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Muppet IDs

Check this out. If you remember "that one Muppet" and you don't remember its name, just look at this interactive article from National Post and remember!

Star Wars Re-done

Now why the heck wasn't I called about this??? Where was I supposed to have signed up? I'm teaching a lightsaber class, for Pete's Dragon's sake...Waaaaah! ~Jenn

Thanks to i09 for alerting me to what will no doubt be hilarious fun. Gosh darnit...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Memorable Quote

"Throw in a duck."

~the secret of writing, according to Thomas Pynchon.

Random Latin

persona non grata
- an unacceptable person.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sketch of the Day

A picture of a cold day on a very hot day. Hopefully it'll cool you off, lovely lurkers. ~Jenn

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fringe Festival Workshop

Bonzuko's own Jenn will be teaching a three-hour workshop at the Boulder International Fringe Festival this summer. Stage Combat Basics is the the theme of the day. Check the link for all the information, and spread the word--we want this class to be huge!

What: Stage Combat Basics Workshop
Where: Boulder International Fringe Festival (Naropa campus)
When: 1-4pm (4:30 showing) Saturday, August 15th, 2009
How much: $35 (whatta steal!)

Visit the page and rate the class, if you've had class with Jenn before. Spread the word!

Vintage Star Wars

Thanks to stellar blog i09 for posting this vimeo page by one of the original ILM guys. One of the comments says: "hardly a computer in sight" which I think is mind-boggling when you think of how good those old films still are and how much we rely on computers nowadays. I know, I sound like an old lady: "When I was your age, our movies didn't have new-fangled CGI..."

Enjoy this vid, lovely lurkers, and thanks again to Mr. Berry and i09.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Harry Potter

Have you seen this? Jenn's expertise on Harry Potter's legacy:

Today's Lightsaber Fun

I'll put more up soon, but here's one clip from today's lightsaber class. Don't you wish you were there? Image is the three-person fight, video is me and Boaz starting to get a bit better. Everything is still in rough draft mode, but we are so close to being ready for public consumption. Oh, wait, the Internet is the public, isn't it... ~Jenn

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fight Clip Club

Well, it's not really a fight. It's Penn Jillette juggling broken bottles. So we at Bonzuko like Penn & Teller a lot, and we like Discovery Channel's Time Warp a lot. They did another amazing section on this episode wherein they showed the classic cup-and-balls magic trick a few different ways (including clear cups!!!) and it taught everyone a lot about what sleight-of-hand really entails. Anyway...

Enjoy this legerdemain, lovely lurkers.

Thanks to this site for the image.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sketch of the Day

Part sketch, part collage, actually. Title: "Sparrows"

Monday, July 6, 2009

3 Rules

This is an old DU lecture from now-nonexistent "Writers on Writing." Stay tuned for a sequel in which I parallel the Three Rules for Actors to warriorship. ~Jenn

Three Rules For Protagonists

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

Image is from Five Funny Faces' Dr. Seuss performance at Skyline Vista Elementary, 2000. Pictured: Jesse, Jas, Jenn

[1] Uttered by many of my previous acting profs, at CU Boulder and a couple UNC seminars.
[2] From Zen in the Art of Writing

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Random Movement Pic

Here goes the unofficial shuffle and click into the Bonzuko Movement Arts picture archive...

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.

Random Latin

et cetera
- (etc.) additional unspecified things


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Cookouts and beer. That's the American way. Have a fun and safe holiday, lovely lurkers!
Image from this site.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Jenn's Mom, Ginger! Yes, Virginia, the fireworks are for you. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mini-Essay Contest Winner

This summer I am teaching Freshman Comp (Research Writing) at MSCD. Earlier in the semester, I gave my students extra incentive on one of their assignments: the best "mini-essay" would be published here on the Bonzuko blog. Congratulations to Katherine Pivoda, this summer's mini-essay contest winner! Her mini-essay (edited for blogging purposes) is below. Good job, Katherine! Image is from this site.~Jenn

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.