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Sunday, November 25, 2012

HOW ARE PI, GANGNAM STYLE AND EMILY RELATED?

When I taught "Technology and Society" at the University of Hawaii, I used Ray Bradbury's short story entitled A Sound of Thunder, where the butterfly effect (supposedly Edward Lorenz coined this term IN 1961, but Bradbury's version was written in 1952) came into play:  anything you do will affect the future.  So for the final exam I sometimes picked three items from the course that I couldn't imagine how they could be linked, and asked the students in five minutes or less to tell me how they were related, and the resultant effect they anticipated in the future.  I was continuously astonished, for virtually every essay did a remarkable job of showing amazing connections and imaginative destinies.

So I ask the reader, how are Emily Maeda, the video virus Gangnam Style and the movie, Life of Pi, related?  Hopefully, there will be a few comments.

Emily is the only senior on the #8 ranked University of Hawaii Women's Volleyball Team, which, again got snubbed by the selection committee, for, while Hawaii and #1 Penn State are the only teams to have two losses, Hawaii was not given a top 16 slot to host the first two rounds.  We even beat #2 Stanford earlier this year and have a nineteen match winning streak. Hawaii is being exiled to the State of Washington.  Anyway, five years ago she walked on to the team as a 5'6" outside hitter (you kind of need to be 6 feet tall for this position).  She languished for three years and  never took obvious hints that, maybe, she should give this up and do something  more rewarding.  She hung in and this year became an indispensable defensive player and server.  Emily was honored after our final game and was shocked by her boyfriend, rolled in under a large decorated box, with a ring and marriage proposal in the closing celebration.  She accepted.

On 1October2012, I posted on Gangnam Style, a video by South Korean Psy.  How did a 34 year old Asian pop singer, and not particularly good looking, become famous?  Against all odds, this  oddity now has more than 800 million views and zoomed past Justin Bieber.  Psy was asked what he did when he was not performing, and his response was, "I'm drinking.  It's my biggest hobby."  My kind of man.

Life of Pi, a book by Yann Martel, should not have worked on film.  What could possibly carry a movie mostly about a boy and a tiger on a small boat?  Perhaps the visuals, which were spectacular.  Won't provide the details, but the whole thing also had something to do with God.  In a way, I identified with Pi, because in his youth he tried to integrate Hindu, Islam and Catholicism to better understand God.  Through high school and into college I was a Buddhist who took Catechism while belonging to a Methodist youth group and attended Presbyterian services.  According to Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of reviewers and 89% of audiences liked the flick.

Pi was lost at sea for 227 days, symbolically relevant because 22 divided by 7 approximately equals pi, 3.14.  I never write a real review, so for details go to others.  While no doubt those days on the survival craft must have been difficult, Pi was the only survivor, had a lot of time to become creative, and could say anything he wanted.  The whole story was somewhat like a dream, in that real characters end up distorted in your sleeping mind (like Dorothy's in Wizard of Oz).  Under these extraordinary circumstances, though, just the psychological trauma resulted in Pi making up all the stuff about animals.  So what!  Whether it's Star Wars, vampire films or the Bible, creative thinking is what films are all about.

Appreciate the inspired direction of Ang Lee and the acting performance of Suraj Sharma, with no previous show business experience.  The computer graphics were fabulous, especially meerkat island and Richard Parker (yes, unexpected name, but there are at least three explanations), the Bengal Tiger, and, no doubt the translated version of Pi.  Lee must love that animal, for one of his other hits was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which, in case you did not know, represents the hidden talents in anyone).  I loved the scene of a whale shark wafting under the boat.  There would have been no movie without the tiger and the meerkats.  The film came in at #5 this five day weekend, accruing box office revenues of $30 million.  That vampire film remained #1.


Anyway, what is the connection among Emily, Gangnam Style and Pi?  My take is that anyone with determination, perseverence and luck can succeed in life.  The key, of course, is to position yourself to take advantage of any potential miracles, and these have a better chance of happening if you can find a way to optimize your luck.  Subsequently, the future for Humanity, too, will most likely be better if you consciously attempt to do good.

So what do you think?   If you can't get through the cryptology, or feel uncomfortable going public, please communicate with me at:

patkentak@hotmail.com

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