Movie: Departures

I saw Departures at the State Theater in Traverse City, Michigan last night. The movie is a Japanese film by Yōjirō Takita that won the 2008 Best Foreign Picture Academy Award.

The movie is about a cellist, Daigo, who, because of the dissolution of his orchestra, is forced to move from Tokyo to a house his mother left him in rural Japan. He unknowingly becomes a mortician and his life becomes complicated from there.

There were a couple things I loved about this movie.

  • Diago’s wife, Mika – Ryoko Hirosue is the actress who played Mika. I thought she did a wonderful job opposing Diago’s emotions throughout the movie. She’s sweet and understanding in the beginning of the movie, but lacks a true sense of her husband. By the end of the movie they a more linear understanding of each other.
  • The construction of the movie – As my sister pointed out, music is used sparingly. In the few instances that it is employed, it is very powerful. This seemed appropriate to me, considering much of the movie is about death, a topic that is often uncomfortable to focus on for any length of time. The stillness of life allowed the celebration of death to resonate – scenes of the family huddled over their deceased, the family’s many thanks to Diago for making the deceased beautiful, and the muted emotions of Diago, who finds himself through comforting the families. The process is beautiful, open and, eventually, accepted.

I recommend the movie. It is well acted, interesting, and thought provoking.

What Happened?

It’s true that the best writing assignments are usually straightforward and simple. I’m a fan of the 20 minute story exercise where I start with an idea and write for 20 minutes. Sometimes it turns into more, but often the idea is extinguished when the time is up and I’m happy with where the story leaves off.

I’ve just come across another writing exercise, which I will call, “Telling something that happened.” I am to write about something real that happened in my life. There are a few reasons why I like this assignment. First, it allows me to write to my strengths – writing about my experiences. Second, I’m a nostalgic person, so I enjoy any chance I get to look back on things. Finally, for the most part, telling about something that happened should be a succinct story. I like that.

I look forward to implementing this “assignment” in the future. Stay tuned!

Two Good Quotes

I rarely post material created by other people on this blog because it’s my space, not theirs. I usually use my tumblr blog for posting clips of others’ works. However, I’m making an exception for this post because T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite poets and I almost bought the Tropic of Cancer a week ago. Now I have to!

“The Rock”

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.

~ T.S. Eliot, “The Rock”
Found via

Excerpt from Tropic of Cancer

There is only one thing which interests me vitally now, and that is the recording of all that which is omitted in books. Nobody, so far as I can see, is making use of those elements in the air which gives direction and motivation to our lives. Only the killers seem to be extracting from life some satisfactory measure of what they are putting into it. The age demands violence, but we are getting only abortive explosions. Revolutions are nipped in the bud, or else succeed too quickly. Passion is quickly exhausted. Men fall back on ideas, comme d’habitude. Nothing is proposed that can last more than twenty-four hours. We are living a million lives in the space of a generation. In the study of entomology, or of deep sea life, or cellular activity we derive more…

~ Henry Miller
Found via been thinking…

That Shower

The piercing stream of water from the corroded shower head sounded like Indian calls made by young innocently racist boys and girls of the 1940s as they played Cowboys and Indians in the streets of some supposedly Utopian town that hid all of its horrible truths from the collective conscience of anyone with the power to make a difference or the will to care. My body was chilled and pale as I stood in the center of the dimly lit bathroom. As I stepped into the upright shower, I noticed the grout, dirty brown between the small cream tiles. On the rack hanging down from the shower head was a thin bar of marbled green and white soap cracked from non-use. Beside the soap was a brandless bottle of generic watered-down shampoo so thin and mild that I could have poured it in my eyes and felt nothing but a twinge of pain before blinking it away. The water was lukewarm, even after running on hot for ten minutes.

Written from 11:15 pm to 11:35 pm on Monday, August 24, 2009 in my bedroom in Traverse City, Michigan.

Texas Trip Photographs

I took nearly 700 pictures on my trip to Texas. I’ve pared them down to 316, named, tagged, and grouped them, and posted them on Flickr for your viewing enjoyment.

Link to pictures.

My favorite five of the 316 are:

1) Woman on bike

2) A church in Austin

3) Sister playing cards

4) Rumbo

5) Sunset from Congress Bridge

When I get some sleep, I’ll write more about the trip. I will say that it was fun, allowed me to relax some, and towards the end I started to feel like writing creatively more than I have in a while.

I’m Traveling by Train to Austin, TX

Because summer hasn’t been hot enough in the Midwest, I’m taking a train trip from Chicago, Illinois to Austin, TX with my sister. The idea for the trip originated with my sister wanting to “get out of Lansing,” a location that, I believe, she has a love-hate relationship with. I’m going because taking trips is fun and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a long train ride.

Initially, we planned to travel out west, but we sat on the idea so long that the ticket prices outgrew our pocketbooks. Thus, Austin, TX in August. I’m anxious to see the sights, eat the Tex-Mex and BBQ, and feel the heat. We’ll be traveling for about eight days start to finish before I’m back in the Midwest.

I won’t have my computer, but I’ll be posting here from my iPhone. Also be sure to check my flickr (right, as well) for iPhone photo uploads. I’ll have my DSLR with me, but won’t be able to upload until I get home.

My goals for the trip are to enjoy the heat, finish a book or two, and do some good writing. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else (e.g., studying for the bar, searching for jobs, etc.). That stuff will have to wait until I’m back.

Without further ado, I’ll sign off and leave you with the following video of physicist Richard Feynman explaining how a train stays on the tracks. Link