Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Sweet

Perfect Grade Gundam RX78/2

There's all sorts of serious stuff going on that I'm not going to write about. The day, bright, clear and cool is as perfect a specimen of California spring as ever was enjoyed by anyone at any time. I saw old John at the corner this morning. He had scored some lasagna for cheap over at Fresh and Easy some weeks ago. He took it out of the freezer, heated it up, and carried it down the hill to eat at the corner. Eddie was there, and so was M, the guy I picked a fight with some months back. As I said before, I later apologized to M for my unseemly behavior. We're friendly and polite with one another when we both end up there at the same time, but it's still uncomfortable. Actions have consequences. In retrospect, if I had been content, last summer, to just walk off and go home, then none of the current tension would exist. I get pissed off, and lose my temper sometimes, but I never stay mad for long. Or more accurately, the latent anger in me finds another target. That's probably the best lesson I took from spending the year with Nichiren Buddhism. Anger is a world you carry with you, and enter periodically. It is a level of hell in a way. But it's the anger that's the issue, not the object to which the anger affixes itself. Because that's the nature of anger. The essence of it is pure, unconnected to any specific stimulus. It needs to latch on to something in order for it to work its dark magic. It is listed among the Three Poisons, along with stupidity, and greed.

In the Christian tradition, anger is one of the seven deadly sins. It's easy to see how you can get hooked on it. It definitely makes the adrenaline flow. But like anything that delivers a buzz, anger gets to be a habit, and even an addiction. Imagine being angry enough to seek out multiple discussion groups you don't like, and barge in on them for the sake of tossing out insults, and picking fights.

Now who would do that?


Yesterday I posted a picture of the Perfect Grade model kit of the Zeta Gundam. The one today is the original. It is the RX78/2 from the series Mobile Suit Gundam which aired in Japan back in 1978, and also the first in Bandai's Perfect Grade model series. In Japan, this Gundam is as iconic as Mickey Mouse is here. Incidentally, a Gundam is not a robot. It is a combat machine, driven by a human pilot who sits in a cockpit in the middle of the chest. There are thousands of variations on the basic Gundam seen here. The Perfect Grade, or PG models from Bandai, are the last word in precision toy making. The kits run from just over five hundred pieces like the RX78/2 to seven hundred plus for the Zeta, not counting decals, wires and screws. Underneath the white, red and blue armor is a completely articulated skeleton, detailed down to hydraulic pistons that move with the bending of the limbs. The kits are expensive. Opening up the box, and seeings dozens of racks of parts is just plain intimidating. Finding out the assembly manual is in Japanese is something of a gut drop. But when you study the manual, it quickly becomes clear. The manuals are absolute masterpieces of technical writing/ illustrating. If you pay attention, you can get through even the complicated wiring scheme in the Zeta without a problem.

The kits need neither paint, nor glue. All the pieces press fit; all surface matches, all fits are perfect. Once you've figured out the manual, and snapped the first two together you're hooked. It's like the first pistachio. Chances are you'll be up late.

The finished pieces, however, are not toys. They're model kits, fussy, and delicate. Even though the Zeta from yesterday makes a perfect (no part swapping) transformation into a space plane, the process takes nearly an hour, and it's really not very much fun to do. The RX78/2 is beautifully articulated, but it doesn't hold a pose well, and like I said- these things break real easy.

Anyway- that's the odd ramble for Saturday- from anger to toys. That's a progressive movement if ever there was one.



walt said...

Ah yes, the Three Poisons! I have great admiration for Buddhist psychology, and its completely straightforward way of describing the roots of human suffering.

Unfortunately, the Buddhists that I was actually around were very progressive, very socially active -- especially Green! Their head guy came out in big-time support of Algore after seeing his movie. At that point, I set my books aside, turned my thankas to the wall, and wandered off.

Actually, I was a mere student, not a practitioner -- but the Algore thing put a stop to that line of thought for me.

Still, the teachings are often superbly clear! I mean, call a spade a spade: "anger = poison."

Saturday Sweet: indeed!

jwm said...

"Progressive" is a good word, Walt. It's much kinder, and more polite than saying, "moonbattier than a shithouse rat".


julie said...

That's amazing about the kits. I probably would have loved something like that growing up, especially since it doesn't require glue or paint. How cool!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Imagine being angry enough to seek out multiple discussion groups you don't like, and barge in on them for the sake of tossing out insults, and picking fights.

Now who would do that?"

Ha! Yeah, the stupid is strong with that one.