Saturday, May 15, 2010

Samurai update

As part of an extra-credit project, Ivan Jaffe has persuaded Potbelly Sandwiches, Chicago to put The Last Samurai on display. So thanks, Ivan, for being so enterprising, and thanks, Potbelly Sandwiches, for being so helpful.

Potbelly is at 1459 W. Taylor Street, a couple of blocks from the University of Chicago; Chicago readers who don't need the book but do need a sandwich could stop by.

HarperCollins has very kindly made special arrangements to facilitate orders from readers who would like to get the book stocked in non-bookselling outlets. Stanley Zigmont of Special Liaisons has agreed to take credit card orders; he can be reached at 1-800-233-4725 ext. 1433 or 1-570-941-1433 or at

(For those unfamiliar with the book: The Last Samurai has no connection with the homonymous film starring Tom Cruise. It is the story of a single mother who uses Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to provide male role models for her fatherless boy.)

1 comment:

mk said...

I don't know, Last Samurai 2: Ludo's Revenge could be a perfect Tom Cruise vehicle. Cruise is 47 but can pass as 35, so we transition the characters to a dystopian near-future (you gotta go full dystopian with something like this; I'm thinking Blade Runner with Arabic grammar disquisitions in lieu of existentially-obsessed robots) where Sibylla (now, what, sixty or so?) doesn't just yell burning-at-the-stake hypotheticals at people on the tube: when confronted with an especially frustrating strain of dismissive myopia, she flings her sweater to the floor, exposing biceps reminiscent of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, unsheathes an enormous, gleaming sword, and duels the uncritical thinker (who, this being a grimy free-for-all dystopia, carries her own sword) to the death right in the goddamn subway car. Slow motion sword arcs, ominous score, artful blood spatters, etc. Probably the other passengers are napping or gazing drowsily out the window while this is going on (can't go wrong with "hellish future characterized by extreme desensitization").

In any event, what happens is that Sibylla picked the wrong stranger to slay in the name of philosophical inquiry - she's the daughter of a ruthless, twitchy-eyed cartel boss (Gary Oldman?) who controls 90% of Western Europe's narco trade, never made it through the Iliad, and considers Yojimbo superior to Seven Samurai in every way. The rest of the movie is Sibylla meeting her end at the hands of Oldman, and Ludo (Cruise) vowing then exacting vengeance in highly stylized fashion (he'd need a catch phrase; "parry the blow my ass!", something like that).

I haven't really figured out how to integrate the linguistics, other than maybe Ludo/Cruise could say his catch phrase in a different language every time, and definitely when he's introduced he should be studying ancient texts in a modest apartment to convey integrity and seriousness of purpose (so that when he shifts into ass-kicking mode we the audience understand that he's not bloodthirsty and, given his druthers, would rather drink tea and ruminate than murder henchmen and drive motorcycles at unsafe speeds).