Posts tagged Wii

Rip van Winkle in Kazakhstan

I have lived in Kazakhstan since fall of 2007 and the farther away I am from my own American culture, the more I feel like a Rip van Winkle.  Songs on the radio are all new to me when I go home to Minnesota for a quick visit, cars change their style and I’m not up on the latest models, many people have seen the latest, catchy advertisements on TV and will refer to them years later and I won’t have a clue what they are talking about.  I’m trying to figure out what this trend in Wii is about, I think it might be a good thing.  A friend of mine from college said that these “digital native” kids who are practicing “Dance, Dance Revolution” (old now as of 3 years ago) or on “Guitar Hero” and other Wii games will be operating on us one day.  Yikes, that’s a scary thought!!! I think future surgeons should be practicing needlework or something more constructive!

Where are the baseball diamonds filled with boys and girls playing t-ball or softball or baseball?  Are the arenas for hockey being used to the max for figure skating competitions and hockey games?  In my home town they just built another big arena with the possibility of three rinks running simultaneously.  What was wrong with the one built by WPA in the 1930s and the other updated one beside it?  Ice is ice!!!

All these changes while I’m away in Kazakhstan and yet I think how the Kazakhs have had to watch the blur of changes whirl around them at an even more quickening pace.  They might feel like I do about the useful inventions such as GPS and people going as families to geocache.  I’ve spent some fun times with my nephews in the last year or more going on these treasure hunts using the GPS coordinates. I don’t think that has caught on in Kazakhstan yet.  In that case, there ARE real treasures buried in their soil.  Many fled Kazakhstan during the purges of 1930s and they really did hide their silver and gold in earthen vessels.

What’s most vexing to me is the name of music groups that my 12 year old nephew knows and I’ve never heard of before like “Tenth Avenue North” or “Remedy Drive”  Aren’t those street addresses?  How about “Superchicks” or “Kutless” or “Third Day” What are these names supposed to mean?  Other artists I’ve heard of like Steven Curtis Chapman or Chris Tomlin but not Jeremy Camp. I feel like Rip, that’s for sure.

I’m showing pictures from Independence Hall of photos from days gone by in Kazakhstan.  Kazakhstan has a LOT Of catching up to do and must be as bewildered as I am about knowing the latest in pop culture.

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“Karate Kid” movie and Kazakh art

Yesterday I watched “Karate Kid” and came away with different impressions on many levels.  First, I have never watched a Jackie Chan movie before but this one was good because it shows a man who is a master at his craft teaching a young, impressionable, black kid from Detroit how to defend himself.  Whoever the 12 year old actor was who played the part of the newly transplanted American in Beijing with his mother, did a GREAT job. [found out it was Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith] Jackie Chan didn’t do too badly either especially when this legendary he-man type is crying for his family that was killed in a car accident.  It evoked strong emotions in me, I started to cry too. Jackie appears quirky and is mis-read by many people because he is a simple maintenance man in the center of Beijing, but of course he comes out the winner in the end.  The 12 year old named Dre Parker in the movie is the little squirt that is bullied by about six Chinese boys who know kung fu but they have been trained to hurt and maim without mercy.

I liked what Jackie told the Karate kid, “there is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.” No different in Kazakhstan, the Chinese teachers are trained to be teacher-centered. Whereas the westerner teachers use a different kind of methodology that is learner centered.  Dre first went to Beijing and was disrespectful towards his mother because he HATED China.  He missed his friends and school back in the U.S. that had revolved around him. But he started to learn discipline and hard work under Jackie. You did not see Gameboy or Wii or whatever that stuff is about that distract the younger generation these days.  I’m sorry I’m not a “digital native” so I don’t know what 12 year old boys are into but it seems they are starting to notice girls.  At least this Dre had a cute little Chinese girl he was interested in, she played classical Bach on her violin and was also very disciplined.  She practiced hard every day under very stern Chinese parents.

The moral of the story that I carried away after watching Karate Kid was, “NEVER give up” and of course the old “the Good guy always wins.” Others might be, “Respect your elders” and “Practice Pays off.” But at the beginning when the Karate Kid was about to be beaten to a pulp by six Chinese boys, that’s when I made an exit to buy popcorn and pop.  Too bad because I missed the part where Jackie Chan comes to the rescue and just ducks out of the way and the bad boys do each other in.  I’ll have to watch the movie again just to see that highly choreographed violence.  I prefer the usual chick flicks and the bad boys in this movie are REALLY evil. (kind of like the Toy Story evil boy)  The one Chinese bully had menacing, opaque eyes like one of a killer.  I didn’t think 12 year olds in real life could look so hateful but this kid pulled it off making you root for the little guy, Karate Kid all the more.

I don’t have any photos of the Karate Kid, you’ll have to see the movie yourself.  But I’ll show photos I took at a friend’s place here in Astana where she has five boys, they all grew up in Kazakhstan.  They no doubt will go see Karate Kid because this movie is about disciplined self-defense and not about aggression and violence.  This isn’t about “boys will be boys” but more about not being scared of the big guys and knowing who you are as a person.  Dre did not want to be scared anymore so he stood up to evil and ultimately won the hearts of the audience in the theater.  I won’t tell you the end, but I think it’s going to be an Oscar winner for sure.

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