JOHN CARTER and HUNGER GAMES


I saw two movies this week and if I blog about them I can justify writing off the ticket prices (and the nachos!) on my taxes. So here goes.

On Wednesday night I saw JOHN CARTER. The one thing most people seem to know about this movie is how badly it’s done at the box office. It’s too bad that it’s faring so poorly with the public. Because it’s really not a bad movie. It fails to be as epic as it wants to be. But it’s good fun. My friend Dale, who read all the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars books when we were both in high school, says the movie is very true to the novels.

As a guy who writes books I feel like a little bit of a traitor for saying this. But maybe they would have done better to deviate a bit more from the original story. We know a lot more about Mars now than Burroughs knew 95 years ago. If some of that was taken into account perhaps the film could have been more science fiction than what it seems like to us now, a fantasy epic set in outer space. Although fantasy epics set in outer space do very well (Star Wars, for example). So what do I know? It’s impossible to say why people go for the films they go for.

I liked the film and I’m glad I saw it on a big screen. It’s the kind of movie that I can’t imagine would be nearly as fun on a DVD. Though that’s probably where most people will end up seeing it.

Last night I went out at midnight to see the first area screening of HUNGER GAMES. This film is based on a series of mega selling novels aimed at teenagers. As I might have expected I was one of about five people over 18 in that packed theater last night.

One aspect I personally find intriguing about the novels is that the paperback edition has a list price of $8.99 and sells on Amazon for just five bucks. (I like Amazon, but folks, support your local booksellers, that extra $4 helps your community) Regular paperbacks like mine list at closer to $15. Perhaps it’s because it’s a teen novel that it’s so much cheaper? But the only teen novel I’ve ever bought, Yvonne Prinz’s The Vinyl Princess, lists for $16.99 in hardcover (I don’t think there’s a paperback edition). OK. Whatever. Just a little aside there.

Hunger Games clearly has a lot more to say than John Carter. It’s a satire of the contemporary American Idol/America’s Next Top Model etc. etc. type show set in a nightmare post-some-kind-of-undefined-war-thing future in which the contestants have to kill each other for the cameras in order to win. The rich people in the big city enjoy the bloodsport at the expense of the poor folks who do the real work needed to support their lavish lifestyles. It’s all kind of surreal. But it’s not hard to envision our own future ending up something like this. Though I doubt it will ever get quite that bad. At least I hope it won’t.

Did the teenyboppers in the Highland Theater in Akron last night get that? It’s hard to say. I’m sure some of them did. I’ll bet most of them didn’t. But a large percentage of the audience seemed familiar with the books. They laughed at lines that could only be funny to people who’ve read them. I had to ask the person I went with, who had read the books, to explain what was funny about one of the characters threatening to cook her cat.

The premise of Hunger Games is quite clearly based on the Japanese film Battle Royale (2000) starring “Beat” Takeshi Kitano in which teenagers in a dystopian future also kill each other for the entertainment of adults. It’s not a remake of the Japanese movie. But the influence is unmistakable.

I hope the Hollywood people paid off the Japanese originators. Though the differences between the two films are so great that maybe they didn’t have to. These kinds of things are always very complicated. I’ve was involved in some of this stuff when I worked for Tsuburaya Productions. It usually comes down to whoever has the most power and money winning and has nothing much to do with any laws that might exist.

As for any kind of Zen perspective on these films, it’s hard to know what to say. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks out a lot about films and music that he thinks poison our minds. “We (writers) do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others,” he says. “Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right Speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future.”

I have a hard time agreeing with this. I do think that there are forms of entertainment whose sole purpose appears to be to excite people in unhealthy ways and generate profits. But almost every time I think I’ve come up with the perfect example of this, it turns out that either the makers of the thing had a higher purpose in mind than I’d imagined or that the fans of the thing got more out of it than I ever would.

I also think that many of the films, books and music that helped me get through my life — particularly my adolescence — would have probably been labeled “negative” by Mr. Hanh and his loyal followers. I can imagine him recommending me to watch Mary Poppins and listen to The Carpenters instead of reading Philip K. Dick and listening to the Sex Pistols. This would have ended up making me kill myself since I would never have known there were others just as dissatisfied with life as I was. At least that’s how I take what he’s said on the subject. And I’m certain I’m not alone in taking it that way.

In the case of Hunger Games, there’s a lot of violence and ugliness. But that ugliness and violence appears to me to be intended to make an important commentary on contemporary society. So it’s valid and good. You couldn’t make the points they wanted to make without all the bloodshed. John Carter is more just pure entertainment and spectacle. It’s not really trying to say anything at all. But it’s unpretentious and honest in its aims. So again, I think that’s also valid and good.

Sorry Thich Nhat Hanh fans if I’ve offended you again. I’m probably not allowed to do that either.

102 Responses

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  1. Indigo
    Indigo March 23, 2012 at 10:39 am | |

    John Carter was a wonderful movie that got crapped on by people with . . . let's leave it at "bad attitudes." As far as I'm concerned, it was far better than the shallow newagery of Avatar. And as for Hunger Games, I thought it was a profound allegory of mid-adolescent angst in the middle of this Great Recession, relevant to thinking people everywhere. Or not?

  2. Steven
    Steven March 23, 2012 at 10:49 am | |

    It looks like I have more reason to see the Hunger Games. I heard an interview with the director the other day that made me think this movie has a lot of substance to it. He didn't mention Battle Royale at all, though.

  3. Patrick Smith
    Patrick Smith March 23, 2012 at 11:28 am | |

    I think stories are what we use to build our minds. Sort of in the same way we use what we eat to build our bodies. If the teenagers don't get the deeper implications of the film, I don't think it matters. A story of courage, nobility, spiritual strength can remind a person that such things are possible.

    Just to be clear, just because a movie is about somebody fighting a lot doesn't mean it's about somebody with courage.

    There's a reason the Buddha, Jesus, and just about every spiritual teacher ever told stories and parables.

  4. Misha
    Misha March 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm | |

    Part of the Right Speech formula to me has a lot to do with intention, as intention is, of course, integral to the practices and precepts. If an author or filmmaker's intent is to harm an audience, or to be misogynistic, or violent for the sake of violence, then Ven. Thay has a good point. Film and literature can't all be Mary Poppins, but unfortunately, so much out of Hollywood is gratuitous violence, sexual and otherwise. The massage is harmful, and the authors of these messages know they are being not creative or nuanced, but "street," in the hopes of selling tickets to impressionable minds.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm | |

    Hunger Games is a Rip-Off of Roller Ball.

  6. jwalker1967
    jwalker1967 March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | |

    It's kind of difficult to know the intention behind a piece of art, though. From what I understand, American History X is intended as an anti-racist movie, but I can't bring myself to watch it just because of the description of the curbstomping it contains I've read about.

    I myself have a lot of trouble with extremely realistic depictions of intensely personal violence, and (after becoming a dad) children in peril, again in a realistic setting. That's part of what makes the Hunger Games successful (as a book) – the distancing of setting the action in a non-specific future allows the author to comment on current society in the way Brad mentions.

    Even though I have trouble with violence in movies, it's the realism that gets me. Zombie apocalypses are fine, as is the Hunger Games (which I'm seeing in 3.5 hours, in IMAX!).

    Now violins in movies, that's another subject! *wags eyebrows and waves cigar around*

  7. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm | |

    I haven't seen either movie, but definitely will when they come out on DVD. Glad to see science fiction of any stripe come out, especially old school, but Burroughs really is rather dated and the heroism seems trite even in the ads. I really wish more movies would be made from the SF classics, particularly Heinlein, who's only had Starship Troopers I think.

    As for Thich's view, I think it's valuable precisely because he's not from our culture and can see how far away most all of our popular entertainments are from genuine right speech. I think a fairly honest approach of adhering to the precepts would make most modern entertainments something to just drop like a rock. They really don't have any real dharmic value, other than seeing what life is like when you don't live by the dharma. And that's valuable for a beginner, but how often do you really have to get that point? If we are honest with ourselves, we enjoy these entertainments because we enjoy entertainment, not because they have any real dharmic value. Trying to come up with justifications for that is just silly. We have faults, many of them culturally encouraged, and instead of pretending they are virtues why not just accept them as faults? No one is perfect, especially in our culture, which celebrates bullshit as if it were golden (as long as it makes money).

    Which is really what it's all about: money. We generally excuse any kind of entertainment as long as it is popular and makes a lot of money. Let's not pretend there's any higher motive in making these kinds of movies than cash. It's not done to spread some kind of subtle dharmic message, and looking for one is simply being dishonest. One can't really easily avoid this sort of thing in our culture, and it's probably not greatly harmful to enjoy these things, but it is what it is.

    Genuinely dharmic entertainment wouldn't look much of anything like this. Just because we like it, and we like dharma, doesn't make it dharmic. Brad likes punk rock, and who can blame him, but pretending it's a dharmic pastime is just being dishonest with oneself. Same with most other forms of modern entertainment. Nothing to get righteous about, but I'd say that Thich is closer to the real dharmic viewpoint than Brad on this.

  8. Anna Rexia
    Anna Rexia March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm | |

    There's already a competitive TV show with a "hunger games" theme. It's called "America's Next Top Model".

  9. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm | |

    Perhaps there is a rumor campaign among the ultra-right Xtian Taliban. Such "whisper campaigns" are not rare although it is usually a tool used by Xtians against other Xtians.

    "In discussions with his sons Hulbert and Jack, Edgar Rice Burroughs stated his religious attitude clearly: he did not believe in the Bible, Christ, the Immaculate Conception or God. He called himself an atheist. To his sons, Burroughs, who did not attend church, had often expressed his dislike for any form of organized or sectarian religion."

    A letter (December 10, 1929) from ERB to son Hulbert contained a severe condemnation of the church:

    "I was pained to discover how sadly you misinterpreted my attitude toward religion. I have no quarrel with religion, but I do not like the historic attitude of any of the established churches. Their enthusiasms and sincerity never ring true to me and I think that there has been no great change in them all down the ages, insofar as the fundamentals are concerned. There is just as much intolerance and hypocrisy as there ever was, and if any church were able to obtain political power today I believe that you would see all the tyranny and injustice and oppression which has marked the political ascendancy of the church in all times."
    http://www.hillmanweb.com/reason/1434.html

    And then there was Edgar Rice Burroughs the real estate developer – most notably, the founder of Tarzana.

    The Tarzan swim scene certainly upset the Xtians! No garden of Eden allowed on the silver screen. (actually, the silver was silver nitrate – in the film stock).

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm | |

    Idiocracy: "Monday Night Rehabilitation"

    ….. a similar concept to Hunger Games, but probably a lot funnier

  11. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm | |

    Speaking of "Star Wars…"

    http://vestalmorons.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/star-wars-and-the-history-of-vatican-ii/

    this analysis is 60% correct, IMO.

    this study is a bit more academic: http://blogs.usd.edu/anai/entry/star_wars_myth_vs_templar

    The History Conspiracy…

    The "truth" is not available – lost to the ravages of time. Of Star Wars, I do know this… I had a long discussion in Mill Valley with Lucas (and mutual friends) in 2002 and his plot parallels are not accidental.

    He may not be so altogether different from ERB. He's just a bit more modern. and the special effects of ILM don't hinder his efforts.

  12. Pet Rock
    Pet Rock March 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm | |

    Mysterion, are you an atheist?

  13. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm | |

    America has a rich tradition of remaking Japanese films…

    Magnificent 7

    Shall we dance?

    Hachiko

    many more…

    All whitewashed.

    thank god that in just 10 more years amerika will no longer have a white majority. perhaps I will live to see it. california no longer has a 'majority' population and I didn't notice any real change.

    Four states are 'majority-minority' (e.g. no majority group) as of 2010: Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas. WIKI

    A "yellowwashed" Elery Queen:
    Haitatsu Sarenai's "Santsu no Tegami" 1979

    none of this matters…

    Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

  14. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm | |

    No.

    I am not an atheist.

    An atheist believes…

    I take exception to the word "believes." (and the concept – belief)

    I say:

    "If god exists, let him."

    or alternately:

    "If a goddess* exists, let her."

    a third alternative:

    "If gods exist, let them."

    &ct.;

    http://askville.amazon.com/god-make-man-image-likeness/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=30196054

    * Isis:
    http://www.amazon.com/Isis-Ancient-World-R-Witt/dp/0801856426

  15. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm | |

    Hey Brad, you've got a typo near the end:

    Sorry Tich Nhat Hanh fans…

    It should be spelled Thich instead of Tich.

    CAPTCHA = detypoti ecityls
    (wow magic!)

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm | |

    Too weird to write about 'typo' and then see it in the captcha so I ran the captcha through an anagram generator to find this:

    Let Dicey Typo Sit

    $10 says it doesn;t get corrected :0)

    CAPTCHA = essate ullne
    (sullen tease)

  17. buddy
    buddy March 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm | |

    The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever).

  18. buddy
    buddy March 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm | |

    The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever).

  19. mysterion
    mysterion March 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm | |

    I found this and cut and pasted it for your edification.

    "The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever)."

  20. Regular Buddhist Dude
    Regular Buddhist Dude March 24, 2012 at 1:01 am | |

    Brad, you have a difficult time letting go, don't you.

    I'm not a devotee of Thich Nhat Hanh. Just a regular Buddhist dude. 2 Observations:

    1. You consistently spell Thich Nhat Hanh's name wrongly. I know he's Vietnamnese and all, but "Thich Nhat Hanh" is the English name he has chosen to go by. Not even bothering to get it right is sloppy and disrespectful. Imagine someone writing about Dogen and spelling "Doggone" or even "Dog".

    2. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monastic. Calling him Mr Hanh is just plain rude. Etiquitte means a lot to Buddhists (esp Asians) who like or respect Thich Nhat Hanh.

    Hope this helps.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 1:05 am | |

    Don't bother lecturing Brad about Buddhism. He's too busy being "hardcore" and "authentic".

  22. Max Entropy
    Max Entropy March 24, 2012 at 3:14 am | |

    "But I wanted to mention that my friend Marc Rosenbush's movie Zen Noir is "now playing at select theaters" as they say. It's a good movie. The philosophy is mostly ripped off from that Vietnamese Zen Master guy whose name I cannot spell, Tikh Naht Hahn maybe. Any relation to Jessica Hahn, I wonder?" – Brad Warner 9/13/06

    http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/09/zen-noir.html

  23. Old Boy
    Old Boy March 24, 2012 at 3:46 am | |

    Brady was just being flippant. It's all part of the cool, hardcore "bad boy of Buddhism" image.

  24. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 3:54 am | |

    Brad calling TNH Mr Hanh is like me calling Master Nishijima "Mr Jim". Brad, you're cool with that, right?

  25. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles March 24, 2012 at 5:16 am | |

    I would argue that Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for her performance in the bland film version of a great novel by Daniel Woodrell titled WINTER'S BONE largely because of the strong acting of her co-star John Hawkes, [not surprisingly] nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

    IMO she was sleepwalking (she has one facial expression: bored = boring) through WB, and I cannot imagine she is any better in The Hunger Games. Go see it and support American Pop Culture's rich heritage alongside other films like Twilight and other teen-ploitation drek.

    Or get a very good psychological mind-bender now out on dvd titled MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (also co-starring John Hawkes in an even stronger role as a cult leader).

    Or get your hands on THE WOLF KNIFE an even stronger independent film by director Laurel Nakadate -check her early short films out on Youtube, especially the ones with her dancing with middle-age bachelors like Brad to Britney Spears Oops, I Did It Again …brilliant.

  26. Movie Critic
    Movie Critic March 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | |

    Speaking of movies John.. What did you finally think of the Justin Timberlake's acting in "Social Media"?

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 8:20 am | |

    "Who is Brad Warner?"

    There’s this Buddhist dude called Brad Warner. He likes monsters and music and movies and sex and cats and vegetarian food. He believes some whacky metaphysical ideas. He writes about all of these things. Sometimes he pisses people off. He seems like a mild mannered dude that believes Nishijima’s take on a dead-guy’s take on other dead-guy’s ideas is really helpful and important. That doesn’t stop him from being human, sometimes painfully so. I think that’s Brad Warner.

    -Sam

  28. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 24, 2012 at 8:37 am | |

    "Who is Brad Warner?"

    the test of time is still out on that.

    wait three generations and see.

    wait ten generations and maybe a council will be formed…

    or not

    in the meantime,

    "Who is Brad Warner?"

    is a koan – like "how does the water feel" about your disrespectful use of it in the washing of dirt off of your hands?

  29. Barbara O'Brien
    Barbara O'Brien March 24, 2012 at 8:47 am | |

    Sensei Brad — I was a production editor/manager in the book publishing industry for 30 years, so I know a little about why books cost what they cost.

    With books, the bigger the print run, the lower the per-unit cost. So, if a publisher can print and sell 100,000 copies he can price the books lower than if he prints and sells 20,000 copies, and make the same profit.

    Almost of the cost of publishing a book goes into preparing the book to be printed, which is the same no matter how many copies are printed or how the book is bound. Especially if you're talking about books that are all black type on white paper, printing/binding is a relatively small part of the cost of publishing the book.

    Mass market paperbacks are especially cheap because the printers typically print two different books together using the same printing "plates" and the same rolls of paper. The two books come off the press attached to each other and are cut apart before binding.

    On the other hand, all other things being equal, there's not a huge difference in the cost of printing a paperback and a hardback book, unless you are looking at a really big volume. If you print, say, 10,000 copies paperback and 10,000 copies hardback of the same book, the difference in manufacturing costs could be just a few pennies per book, depending on exactly what materials you're using.

    But people expect paperbacks to cost a lot less than hardbacks. So publishers often publish a relatively small first printing with a hard binding and a higher price, and if that sells really well they'll crank out a big paperback printing and lower the price, thereby reinforcing the notion that paperback books ought to be cheaper than hardbacks. But, again, at smaller quantities the costs to the publisher of paper vs. "case" are not that different.

  30. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles March 24, 2012 at 8:54 am | |

    Wouldn't see "Social Network" if you paid my way in to review it or told me how to claim it on my taxes.

    Justin T. will never top "Dick In A Box" IMO.

  31. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 10:04 am | |

    Mysterion said: "'Who is Brad Warner?' is a koan"

    It is a koan?
    It can be a koan?
    It is intended as a koan?
    You take it as a koan?

    "Who is Brad Warner?" is a question. Specifically, my question.

    The test of time fails every time.

    Brad Warner is hopefully learning more about Brad Warner every day.

    -Sam

  32. anonymous anonymous
    anonymous anonymous March 24, 2012 at 10:31 am | |

    mysterion said,

    "Who is Brad Warner?"

    the test of time is still out on that.

    wait three generations and see.

    wait ten generations and maybe a council will be formed…"

    He really said this.

  33. jeasbed
    jeasbed March 24, 2012 at 10:49 am | |

    Mysterion,

    An atheist DOESN'T believe (at least a weak atheist doesn't). Lack of belief isn't belief.

  34. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner March 24, 2012 at 11:08 am | |

    Regular Buddhist Dude said:

    Brad, you have a difficult time letting go, don't you.

    I'm not a devotee of Thich Nhat Hanh. Just a regular Buddhist dude. 2 Observations:

    1. You consistently spell Thich Nhat Hanh's name wrongly. I know he's Vietnamnese and all, but "Thich Nhat Hanh" is the English name he has chosen to go by. Not even bothering to get it right is sloppy and disrespectful. Imagine someone writing about Dogen and spelling "Doggone" or even "Dog".

    2. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monastic. Calling him Mr Hanh is just plain rude. Etiquitte means a lot to Buddhists (esp Asians) who like or respect Thich Nhat Hanh.

    Hope this helps.

    I know you won't believe this. But I keep trying to spell Thich Naht Hanh correctly. In this most recent incident, I was so concerned with getting the Naht part right that I got the Thich part wrong. What is up with the silent "H" in every one of his names anyway?

    I used to go thru this with transliterated Japanese. In Japanese there are elongated vowels. But you can't really represent elongated vowels in Roman letters in ways that English speakers will readily understand.

    The current president of Tsuburaya Productions is ???? which most of us would pronounce Oka Shinichi. But it's not Oka. It's O-o-oka. He insisted on spelling his name Ooka. I told him that people would tend to pronounce those double-o's like the double-o's in poop. Actually I didn't use that example. I just said it the way it looks. He was OK with that.

    I imagine the extraneous H's in Thich Naht Hanh (did I get it right that time? I tried!) function in the same way.

    Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

    Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me.

  35. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner March 24, 2012 at 11:10 am | |

    Thanks Barbara O'Brien!

    So you think the lower price is just because there are so many copies of the book? I was wondering if lowering the retail price of books was some kind of new trend.

  36. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner March 24, 2012 at 11:18 am | |

    Thanks Indigo!

  37. Mr. Hanh
    Mr. Hanh March 24, 2012 at 11:27 am | |

    "Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

    Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

    Brad: That was so sarcastic and intellectually craven that it should embarass you say it publically.

  38. Mr. Hanh
    Mr. Hanh March 24, 2012 at 11:31 am | |

    "Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

    Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

    Brad: That was so sarcastic and intellectually craven that it should embarrass you say it publicly.

  39. Trollnonymous
    Trollnonymous March 24, 2012 at 11:50 am | |

    Wow, you fixed the typo!
    Ok I owe you $10 ;O)

    CAPTCHA = ollutter edsDi
    ANAGRAM = troll edit Dues

  40. Fred
    Fred March 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm | |

    put aside
    the intellectual practice
    of investigating words
    and chasing phrases,
    and learn to take

    the backward step
    that turns the light

    and shines it inward.

  41. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf March 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm | |

    When I first heard about "The Hunger Games," I immediately thought "Battle Royal." Although I do feel that HG was influenced by BR (unless the author grabbed the idea out of the great collective consciousness or something), I did enjoy reading HG and found the two stories to be quite different even with such similar plots. I took my nephew to watch the movie last night. He loved it. I thought it was pretty damn good myself, though I still have a soft spot for the original teen-duel-to-death-film…Battle Royal.

  42. Trollnonymous
    Trollnonymous March 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm | |

    Great advice Fred!

    BTW, what are you doing reading and commenting on blogs?

  43. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm | |

    Real Buddhists® do not put too much stock in 'honours.' I use the Brit. spelling to emphasize the foreignness of the entire concept.

    People are people – all on an even footing. Yes, elders are cut a little extra slack but that is not a Buddhist® tradition – quite the contrary, it is a tradition to which the Buddha only tolerated.

    When Alan Watts elevated the Rev. Suzuki to Venerable Master (Roshi), Suzuki went off in "gales of laughter."

    After all, what made Alan Watts so special that he could even think of such a thing?

    However, rather than object (and threaten the credibility of AW), Suzuki just went with the flow.

    I seriously doubt that Thich would spend a moment on the issue were he even aware that Brad misspelled his name – either accidentally or deliberately.

    It's not about spelling. Brad respects the traditions of others – tedious as they may be. I have seen it for myself…

    PEACE

  44. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm | |

    I've been under the impression that most asians put their surname first, rather than last as in the west. So the proper reference would actually be "Mr. Thich" rather than "Mr. Hahn", just as it would be "Mr. Warner" rather than "Mr. Brad".

    "Mr." is of course an odd title to refer to a Buddhist monk by, so when I refer to him, I just say "Thich", which is like referring to Brad as "Warner", which is the common way of referencing people in the third person one doesn't know well or is not on the home blog of. I don't think Thich is in the habit of using titles, unlike the Dalai Lama,. He's just a humble monk, after all. But correct me if I have this surname/given name usage backwards.

  45. Khru
    Khru March 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm | |

    We should have a rule that each comment can be NO longer than three (3) sentences. If you can't express your idea that succinctly, than too bad. But that may just be the weed talkin'.

  46. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm | |

    That's called twitter Khru..

  47. Dick Cheney
    Dick Cheney March 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm | |

    Thanks for the heart M.. If only you had a brain.

  48. Max Entropy
    Max Entropy March 25, 2012 at 3:40 am | |

    How do you pronounce Thich Nhat Hanh?
    The English pronunciation is: Tik · N'yat · Hawn

    However since Vietnamese is a tonal language, this is only a close approximation for how one would pronounce it in Vietnamese. (His name is sometimes misspelled as Thich Nhat Hahn, Thich Nhat Han, and Thich Nat Han.)

    By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced "Tay" or "Tie"), which is Vietnamese for "teacher."

    http://www.plumvillage.org/thich-nhat-hanh.html

  49. Max Entropy
    Max Entropy March 25, 2012 at 3:45 am | |

    Born Nguy?n Xuân B?o, Thích Nh?t H?nh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thi?n) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nh?t H?nh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Nhat_Hanh

  50. proulx michel
    proulx michel March 25, 2012 at 4:29 am | |

    Max Entropy wrote:

    How do you pronounce Thich Nhat Hanh?
    The English pronunciation is: Tik · N'yat · Hawn.
    Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan.

    Then it should be pronounced "Thik", like in "thick", if you want to approximate "Shakya"…

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