Megalon the Pimp: Construct Him, Bitches!

We had a surreal moment today at the Barker household. We were finishing dinner, and Viri turns to J and says, “Help me make a Megalon, bitch.”

Wait, what? Did you just command us, curse us, demanding we construct a monster for you? We asked him to repeat, to clarify. “Megalon please, bitch!” This time the hands are waving around. He’s getting exasperated with us for not taking care of the issue at hand. The please is a nice touch, son, but I’m not sure I like what is going on. I hope we’re wrong. Could you show us? “No, I can’t show you a bitch. It just is.” Okay, a fair point… you need an example.

I finally get him into the living room, where he models what he wants. Apparently it’s a Megalon bridge, for Megalon to knock down. This is much better, and really puts the please in a proper context. Bitch and please just sound odd together.

I’m glad he wasn’t trying out new curses or anything, but I was a tiny bit disappointed. Because if he had been saying what I had thought, the hilarity of it would have made the insult almost worth it.

I really needed this after my day today. It was another frustrating work experience, with me stuck trying to plug the proverbial dam. I have said many times that for 40k a year, no problem, I would deal with the stupid problems without complaint. But for ten bucks an hour, it is above my pay grade. Thankfully I have an awesome family to come home to. I am so glad to be done and out of the Bastyr craziness in a few months. I have reached the limit of my patience. I’m angry, and I don’t do anger well. It isn’t a natural state for me. I walk away when I get mad. When it’s a work situation, it’s harder to just walk away. Centuries of West Virginia conditioning make this an impossible situation for me; it’s fight or flight.

I need Viri to come in and solve the problem. “Look, bitches, I don’t want to argue! Just get to making a Megalon. I don’t have all day!”

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Alienation In Parenthood


I was lucky when I became a parent. I had access to some parents who encouraged our attachment parenting tendencies, and helped us find a way to work with our child, to help him understand the world and find his way in it. Viri, especially, needed this attention. Now, through strange work circumstances and new acquaintances, I’m around a lot of people who don’t subscribe to our viewpoint. I’m beginning to realize how detrimental that is to us, and to our interaction with Viri. And, much as before, I am in a situation where I need to leave my current situation and find a place of comfort for me and my family.

Some of us make choices to be different, to be outside. Many people I know are comfortable with that, even enjoy it. I’ve never been that way. I want to fit in with people. I don’t mind that aspect of my personality. I like it, even. I was outcast as a youth for being smart, and getting good grades. I was outcast as a young man for being contrary and rebellious. Now, I’m outcast for a parenting style that my job doesn’t want to use. That’s an odd one. It doesn’t especially bug me, except that I started this job specifically to be allowed to be the parent that I want to be. Once again I made an attempt to fit into a space that either I misread horribly, or changed drastically.

My quote for these times that J gets a kick out of is this: Gravity pulls, and atoms spin around. Anywhere in the middle gets messy.

This reflects my opinion of the universe. I think it is an orderly place, on the whole. Humanity, endowed with free will, can try and make human enterprises, but they are doomed to mediocrity. The big picture all shakes out, but trying to control middle sized human things, and failure is often the result.

I want to do something that makes things work, for a brief moment, in the big picture. I think my dream job is leaping around like the character in Quantum Leap, taking care of little things so that the entire universe operates how it’s supposed to. Everything isn’t always fun, or pretty. But his job is to make sure that the whole tapestry looks right. There is something deeply satisfying about that show.

In a sense it’s what I like about working with children. They are just little bundles of potential, and it’s rewarding to work with them and see what happens with little positive changes. The frustration sets in when you hand them off to parents who don’t even listen to what they did that day, much less follow through with steps to help their development. I understand parents have it tough, it’s a hard job. I screw up a fair number of things with my kids. But I work constantly to give them the tools they need, and I never refuse to listen to something that might help me to do that. (Viri today: “You wanted to smack me! You’re bad, Papa!” He’s right. I did kind of want to smack him for pushing past Arkaedi and knocking her down. Perceptive.)

It pays off. I have two wonderful kids. Kids who deserve better than our current crazy schedule, and difficult parents. So, I’m listening. Next quarter is going to be different.

The Three Bad Guys In The Hidden Fortress


I got to see Kurosawa’s wonderful and funny Hidden Fortress on the big screen this week. In our standard venue, of course. This time we were without Smartz, leaving us free to pick up hot Kurosawa chicks. We… didn’t.

This is the movie that is famous for having inspired aspects of Star Wars. The volunteer gave a little preview that explained how this film was not at all similar to Star Wars, and the only similar aspect was having the story approached from the viewpoint of the minor characters. Except, watching it again, I realized that there is a lot that did come from Hidden Fortress in Star Wars. There is a general who needs to escape from the authorities with valuables. There is a princess who is a badass, but sweet too. There is a tough guy who realizes at the last moment that he should help the princess. Instead of seeing the princess vulnerable when her planet is threatened, we see her shed a tear as her remaining servants sacrifice themselves to save her, and the fortress burns in the distance. Sort of a combination of Luke’s aunt and uncle and Alderaan there, I suppose. But these aren’t minor similarities, to me.

I had never seen this on the big screen, and I realized why movies like this are meant for the theater. It’s a fun movie, big and humorous, with some surprisingly sweet moments. The funny moments are really funny. It’s over the top, in good ways, much as Star Wars is. The comic relief is great, and I actually laughed out loud several times at the goofy peasants. Watching them pantomime taking the horses for a drink is worth the entire movie alone. Seeing the movie like this, I liked it immensely more than I had previously. This is not a movie to watch while drinking tea and reading a magazine, as I had before. This is a Star Wars epic, for enjoying with friends.

The subtitling was generally quite good, but I had a few problems. One is the song, which is pretty key to the plot. They translate the first line as “A man’s life, burn it away,” or something similar. The better translation, which makes more sense in the context, and is explicit in the Japanese, is “A man’s life, man burns it away.” That’s important. The song is about wasting our time, and not living in the moment. It inspires the aforementioned Han Solo character to act, and the original, the despair version, would not.

This is a major problem with American takes on Japanese culture. Seen from our perspective, it can sometimes seem a little dark, or at least resigned. But it’s often a problem of linguistic and cultural translation. There is a certain sense of fate in Japanese culture that isn’t present in our youthful and idealistic society, true. But it isn’t negative. It’s just an acceptance of how things are, a low key realism, or pragmatism at the very least. One of my favorite aspects of Japanese culture is this pragmatism. It relaxes me. It’s a mellow culture, at its heart. One of the sad aspects of the modern, overworked office worker in Japan is how contrary it is to the nature of the country. I’ve heard that this workaholic period is slowly ending, which is a good thing. The Economist referred to Japan as the Switzerland of Asia a few years back, and I really like that. I hope that is the wave of the future. They can make a few Gamera films, drink some tea, and have a good rest on the tatami. Take a break, Japan, you deserve it!

The Japanese Han Solo is Susumu Fujita. He was in some Godzilla films too. He’s great. And Susumu is an awesome name.

This movie also has Takashi Shimura, who is awesome as usual. (He apparently even played the great tea master Sen No Rikkyu! He’s the best.)

PS. The original Japanese title is great, and sets the tone of the film: The Three Villains of the Hidden Fortress

Viri Speaks: The Quotable Giant Monster


I’ve told many people about how Viri has a way with words. He’s not a huge talker. He has his little speeches, though, that are just amazing. I’ve worked with a few dozen kids in the past few years that are his age, and no one has quite the ability to capture a situation like Taviri Issa.

Today was a classic. It started with Arkaedi knocking over a bunch of bags, and Viri exclaiming, “I’m the good one!” He saw a rare chance to not be in trouble, I guess. Later, he was sharing his toys with Arkaedi, in an effort to continue as the good one of the family, I expect. “Give her the yellow one,” I told him, referring to the little hammers in the Break the Ice game that he loves. “It’s orange, Papa. I thought it was yellow. I was wrong.” He shook his head sadly. Okay, I can tell it’s one of those nights. He’s rolling.

He got a time out just before bed, for knocking over Arkaedi in a careless dash across the kitchen. “I’m a bad boy,” he tells me sadly. He’s lamenting the return of the good kid crown to his sister. “No, Viri, not bad. Just a good boy who needs to think about his mistake.” He seizes this opportunity. “Good boys don’t need time out! I can get up? I’m done?” I’m a little stunned. Uh, no. Wait! Who knew my philosophy degree was only useful in dealing with my three year old? Your state of goodness is only in potentia! There is no a priori reason for me to accept the goodness, I must witness it and prove that it follows from your behavior! While I’m thinking, he tries another route. He finds a little flower on the floor from some art project. “Look, Papa, a flower. Only good boys have flowers. I don’t need a time out.” I’m almost ready to give it to him. The sheer effort is worth something. I go for the classic father line, the sledge in our toolbox. “I’m the Papa, I said time out! Three minutes, now sit down.” It works. But he’s only three. I don’t know how long I can Papa-voice my way out of this.

He marches off, chanting, into the living room. I barely catch what he is chanting. “Oat, oat! Soy, soy! Oat, oat! Soy, soy!”

He points to the movie we had been watching before starting the bedtime routine. The MST3K Godzilla versus Megalon. “Tom Servo! Jet Jaguar! I see you!”

We don’t even give him sugar. Thankfully.

Downtown Streetcar Rides: A SLUT For Viri!


We took a ride on the Seattle Streetcar today. We still refer to it as the SLUT. Unfortunately, the Seattle Streetcar is no longer the South Lake Union Trolley. But, despite the lack of a fun acronym, we did have a good time running around today in downtown Seattle. Viri was very excited to take the trip, and I think it lived up to his expectations. He fell asleep the second he hit his carseat, and when he woke up, he blearily asked if the train had taken him home. In Viri’s world, the trains are benevolent and don’t need rails. It’s a fun world.

Sunday is our official, recognized by the governing bodies, tax deductable family fun day. We make it a point every Sunday afternoon to get out and do something that we want to do. Sometimes, like today, we let Viri decide. When Arkaedi gets older, she’ll pick some too. If she chose now, we’d just all stay home and nurse and toddle around the kitchen, and it wouldn’t be fun for anyone. Herc and Sarah accompanied us today, so it was a family and friends fun day. Sarah actually voted for the stay home and toddle and nurse option, but we went with the Viri plan, thankfully. (If there are any Grinchs around that need help, the sheer wonderfulness of watching Arkaedi Sue toddle around the kitchen will make anyone’s heart grow three sizes.)

It ended up being a nice enough day, and we got in a little walk and a quick run through downtown. I definitely don’t miss living there, but it’s fun to visit. I like the size of Seattle’s center. It isn’t huge, but there is a lot to see and do if you want. The market was fun, especially, even though the vegan cinnamon rolls usually for sale in one of the little bakeries were all sold out by ten. You’d think they’d see my little cadre of hungry vegans and make more…

All in all, a great day, one of the days that makes me happy to be who I am and where I am. The decisions I know were right, that I never think twice about or begin to regret, are exactly three. The decision to marry Jaime, and to try and have Viri, and later Arkaedi Sue. Days like this remind me why I never think twice about those.

West By God And Economic Downturns

I attempt to keep things simple in my daily affairs. I talk about spring, or the weather. In these times, with my crowd, however, discussions of the economic situation are unavoidable. Everyone I know is affected by it, and even in my job, unrelated as it would seem, it comes up. People need extra childcare, they are more inclined to trade, etc. It really makes me wonder how other places are doing. Talking to J’s dad, he doesn’t see the recession/depression affecting them. I think he’s just used to an economy with higher general unemployment and a tendency to see the economy in negative ways. Since I was a small child in West Virginia, it’s been a tough place to work. I remember the factories slowly closing down in my teens, and the place getting shabbier and shabbier. It doesn’t look any better now. One of the recent times I visited, I tried to count the number of gambling establishments, and lost count around fifty. It was funny, and sad. Like inflatable furniture. (Thank you Simpsons. I will quote you till I die.)

I have a lot of love for West By God. I don’t understand why the other people who live there don’t. To let something like this happen is criminal, to my mind. I cannot understand why there aren’t petitions to close them down. It’s the populist in me, maybe, but I can’t imagine sitting by why these places fleece the poor saps just fired from the plant. My father and I drove past some spots that used to be old mom and pop carry outs, now gambling joints with deceptive names like “WV Cafe.” Granted, the little groceries often sold beer to rednecks who were at that moment driving fast on country roads without seat belts; but that’s honest. I don’t necessarily have to approve. The gambling dens are shady ways to take poor people to the cleaners. And not in the way they need.

I discovered these places in a great way. Jason and I were looking for coffee. This is extremely difficult in WV. We saw a place, seemed like a coffee shop from far off. It was called “City Perk.” Kind of a coffee sounding place, right? Well, we got to the door, and it was a screen door. That was a little off putting. And it was locked. Okay, it was closed. We started to leave. “Wait, I gotta buzz you in,” a man says. Okay, what have we gotten ourselves into? Is this a mafia movie? We go in, confused. Why is there a security system? What good would it do on a screen door anyway? “Do you have coffee?” we ask. He looks us up and down. “We don’t have no fancy coffee.” We look like two big city fancy boys, apparently. I didn’t even have a carnation in my lapel.

It doesn’t have to be this way, West By God! You’re better than that. There is a hard-nosed will there that I love, and tons of natural beauty. I wish I could show the state that it could embrace the village model, start making local economies function again. The spirit of those little ma and pa stores is the wave of the future, WV!

But WV is stubborn, and change is slow. I wonder if they will ultimately do better than places like Seattle with this downturn. I think Seattle has a good head start. There is a vibrant local economy here. But if the stubbornness and willpower can be harnessed, West By God stands a chance too.

PS. Note the slogan on the City Perk sign. And the map of how West Virginians view the country is incredibly funny to me. I’m an odd sort of duck.

Dharma Bums and Ryokan

I never really thought about how close I am to Desolation Peak. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was sixteen, and used to read Dharma Bums in the backyard of my little house on Princeton Street in Parkersburg WV. I used to skip school and lie in the grass reading Whitman, Thoreau and Kerouac. It’s odd, but I’m more like that person now than I have been for many years. I’m not as stupid, maybe, but the thoughts and feelings still make sense to me. I recently re-read some Kerouac, and really enjoyed it. I don’t idolize the characters like I used to; I understand them better. It’s still a nice read. From The Dharma Bums:

Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapors appeared, and I said “God, I love you” and looked up to the sky and really meant it. “I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us, one way or the other.”
To the children and the innocent it’s all the same.

I really want to climb the peak this summer, and get a good look at what he saw. Kerouac wrote a few books, and talked to the chipmunks. I’m more inclined to take some poetry from my ever shrinking library. I think the Zen poet, Ryokan, would be the perfect companion on a solo hike up the mountain.

In the village
Are sounding drums and flutes
But here on the mountain
Only the pines are whispering.

I’ve heard a Sufi quote about being a darvish. They say that anyone can be a darvish in the mountains, and it takes a real Lover to be a darvish in the city, surrounded by noise and hassle. I like that, it really resonates with me. I need the escape, the respite in the mountains. It isn’t good for me, however, to wander off and not participate in the world. It doesn’t help anyone, especially not me. I love going off in the woods, then coming back to the craze of daily life. You must be a human being, and other human beings are vital to that. Honestly it’s something I like about the city. The city is a place of people, built by people, with human objects and machines everywhere. That’s wonderful. The mountains are a place of nature, separate from humanity. That’s wonderful too. I can imagine a fantastic country where we live in a city, surrounded by huge swaths of natural beauty. I would like to live there.

Ryokan himself had the people who visited, including his dear friend, the nun Teishin. She was his connection to the broader world, and he needed that.

Impatiently waiting for the hagi to bloom
And you to come
Through the dewy grass so thickly grown
Now you’re here!

My solution to the frustration that seized Kerouac, and led to his alcoholism and swift decline, is like Ryokan’s: I have the people in the world that I love, and that ground me. Kerouac was terrified of understanding the universe in a personal way. He didn’t really like the anthropomorphic ideas of God that he saw in western culture, and the east was cold and foreign. Ryokan was satisfied with his spiritual path, and the personal was manageable for him. I have no issue with seeing the universe in a personal way, but I’m not really concerned with the way shape or how of it. My remembrance of God is what is present, what is real. Too much meandering from the issue of constant remembrance of the real, and it gets dull. Perhaps there is a deeper psychological discussion here, and I’m not terribly interested in the academics of it, but it is something to consider.

For this summer, I have Ryokan and Kerouac, and a nice night on Desolation Peak.

Well, That’s It Then. Spankings All Around.

I’m a father. Ask me what I do, that’s all I can think to say. I guess I work for money, too, if that’s what is meant. Parenting is what I do. I’d like to teach again, or repair motorcycles, or play baseball for a living. I’d like to do various things, but the one thing I do every day is be a father. I lose patience, and I make mistakes. I probably make some mistakes that I’m completely unaware of, and will come out years down the road. On the whole, I think I do a pretty decent job. I would even say that it is something I am better at than most other things I have ever tried. I wondered if I would be able to be good at it, once upon a time. I don’t wonder anymore. I don’t pretend to be perfect at it, but I know I’m meant to be here and now, raising these two. And I am good at it. Certainly better than playing baseball or repairing small engines. I hope someday that my kids will agree. Despite the occasional skeptical look on their faces, I think they are okay with me.

The two big differences I notice between me and other parents around me have to do with what I want from the kids, and what they can expect from me. First, I have high standards for them. I expect them to be who they are, and behave appropriately. Viri was having problems today and I told him, this isn’t who you are. You know better than this. He looked at me seriously, and said, “Yeah. I’m a big boy. I’m a big help.” It’s who he is, and he knows it. When Arkaedi Sue gets bigger, I’ll expect her to be who she is as well. Parents sometimes look at me like I’m crazy when I ask Viri to help clear the table, or pick up the trash. I know he’s only three; but I also know who he is, and what he’s capable of doing.

The other difference is that I express myself. When I’m upset, it’s clear to everyone. I pulled Taviri across the room the other day for a time out. Not roughly, but purposefully, and I was noticeably upset. I told him, I’m upset, what you did made me mad, and you need a time out to sit and think about it. I see this as a good thing. There is no confusion with me, no fits of rage. If he hits the baby, I am mad. If he spills a little water by accident, no big deal. I think people want to pretend a lot around kids, and not express honestly what they’re feeling. I can’t do that. And I don’t think it would be healthy if I did, for me or them.

I see parenting as preparing the kids to be adults. I have no illusions about it, they are more important than me, they have greater destinies, and I want them to be ready to rise to it. They were born to me for a reason, and I have to accept that responsibility. People talk about doing anything for their children, but they don’t set aside anything of their lives when they have them. I see parents trying to live almost independently of their children, and I don’t understand that. This time in my life is about letting my kids grow, and guiding them. It’s what I signed up for when I procreated. I’m going to do things for myself as well, of course, it’s not healthy to neglect my mental health; but it fits in around them, and it’s my responsibility to make it work.

I’ve talked a bit here about finding out what I like, and understanding my identity separate from the intellectual. My children are something I feel one hundred percent. There is no hypothetical that doesn’t have me there for the kids, trying my best to do what’s right. If I honestly reflect about my children, and what it means to me to be a parent, I come back to an image that I can’t shake. It’s a silly image, but I think of it a lot. It’s an old grainy western, and the posse is riding out, strapping on guns and saddling horses. And the sheriff looks back at me and says, “You don’t have to go, Barker. Stay home.” And I scoff at him, pulling on my boots and picking up my rifle. “I’ll pretend you didn’t say that.”

Scientists Labor Around The Clock To Discover: What’s The Deal With Japan?

I have a love/hate relationship with Japan. It’s the first place I really lived as an adult, and I spent a good chunk of my twenties there. So, it feels like my grown up place, in some ways, which is strange. I moved there when I was 21, and then came back to the states at 22. Then, at 24, I moved there again, and stayed until I was 27. A lot of things I associate with Japan are simply aspects of living in large cities, having a job, or being an adult.

Because of this, I talk about Japan a good bit. I’ve noticed that this is pretty evenly divided between complaining about it and missing it. I’m not sure why that is; I don’t do that with other interests in my life. I think a part of my problem with Japan is that I didn’t choose to get involved with it. It was an arranged marriage between Jaime and Japan. She decided to go, and I went along. Because… well, I didn’t want to be without Jaime. It started a quest to understand the country, and I think that is the driving force behind my continued interest. I want to really understand the place.

Spending my formative years there also gave me no chance to develop another career path. Basically, speaking Japanese is my only skill. Speaking Japanese and putting up with insulting and borderline racist questions from my students was my job for a few years. I’m not sure what else I could ever do. As strange and possibly depressing as it sounds, it was a job I actually liked. I hated it some days, sure. But working with the kids was great, and they were so happy to be there learning English from me, for the most part. I didn’t really, wholly love working in Japan, but it was a job I did that fit in with my real life fairly well. I could spend my time doing what I liked, traveling and drinking tea. It would now have the added bonus of giving me a job that paid okay while Jaime could stay home with the children. I would miss spending my day with them, certainly, but it would do wonders for Jaime. Although J is pretty industrious and ambitious for that much free time. She might be dictator for life of Japan in a few years time. I’d better keep her busy.

I never got into the things about Japan that brought most people there. I dislike Anime greatly, and Manga is awful. I have a wife, and I’m thankful every day for her. I really couldn’t deal with a Japanese wife. I like the kaiju films, but honestly they are more popular here than in Japan now, I barely heard of them when I lived there. I don’t like video games. I’m not really into electronics or Japanese cars… I like Buddhism, and tea. But more people are into Godzilla than Buddha these days, and as interesting as they are culturally, they aren’t my spiritual path. (Buddhism or Godzilla, that is. Tea may still be…)

I wish I could set aside my interest, or come to terms with it. I’m worried that I’m going to drag myself back to Japan without fully understanding why. I’m okay with going back, or not going back: I just need to have a clear head when I make the choice. I don’t know if I was totally clear-headed when I decided to take the job in Imabari. I was having fun in Morgantown, but I felt like my life was just coasting along. I didn’t want to be 35 and doing the same things I had done at 20. I feel a little like that now, but there is a difference. I’m not concerned I’ll be doing the same things at 45 that I’m doing at 32, I’m concerned that I’m coasting along and not allowing myself to grow. I know that a change of location isn’t going to affect that, of course. But what about a change of location draws me?

Maybe I’ll let Jaime drag me to Sweden. Then I get a change of location and a new country. One without subway fondlers and big eyed prepubescents with guns! Which is a good thing.

See this entire post wasn’t about Japan. Some was for Sweden. Dear Sweden: Please get down on your bony European knees and thank the Lord that you aren’t Japan. (Thank you, MST3K version of Prince in Space. You have healed my pain over all things Japanese better than years of intense therapy.)

Throne of Blood (AKA Spider Web Castle)


I just got the chance to watch Throne of Blood, of the darkest and most fun Kurosawa films. Herc, Sarah and I went to Grand Illusion Cinema, again, since they are wisely having a month of Kurosawa films. We’re getting to be regulars here, and for good reason. It’s a comfy place, and the people are all incredibly nice. This is really impressive when you think that they are volunteers. They don’t really have to be nice, there’s no manager looking over their shoulder. But they are great folks. If they got vegan hot dogs at the concession, I’d never leave.

Throne of Blood is a great film to start off a Kurosawa marathon. It’s quick, and dark. It still has some of the elements of theater that really impress me about his work. The great pauses, and long shots. If you haven’t seen it, the story is Macbeth. Kurosawa changed the plot, though, so instead of being killed by a moral authority, like Macbeth, Washizu is killed by his own archers when his plans fall apart. I kept thinking of this difference while watching it. I don’t know how it feels to someone raised in Japanese culture, but for me, I kept wanting someone to stand up and say, “Wait, this is crazy, what’s wrong with you people!”

I’m not sure where the title comes from in English, the Japanese title is Kumonosu-jo, or Spider’s Web Castle. I can see why they changed it, it has a certain horror movie connotation in English. But it’s a great title. The connotation in Japanese is more of the deception, the spider’s web of lies and betrayal that leads to the final conflict. You always know that Washizu is doomed; even he seems to know it, and tries to avoid setting out on the path.

The scenery is amazing, and makes me miss Japan. The exteriors were filmed around Mt. Fuji, and they are gorgeous in black and white. It appears to be winter, or early spring, and the ground is mostly barren. As usual, after watching a Kurosawa movie, or an Ozu movie, I want to sit on the floor drinking tea and staring out at the rain. I’m not sure if this is a normal or healthy response, but it’s what happens. I feel good about that.

Throne of Blood also has one of the greatest death scenes in movie history. Toshiro Mifune gets talked about a lot, and for good reason. He could really just grab a scene and run with it. He knows when to shout and when to be silent, and when to flail at arrows in his chest. That is talent.

I do wonder, watching this, how people can romanticize the samurai. Their life seems pretty awful. I’d stick to being one of the rice farmers, making an honest living, not bothering anyone. Your job is to smile and nod at the crazy men hacking each other to pieces. And to grow rice. I get that.