Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our Little Sister (2015): Exploring Forgiveness and Trust

Title: Our Little Sister
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Language: Japanese
Rating: PG

Our Little Sister is a movie that brings more beauty into the world, not just entertainment. It doesn't show unnecessary drama. Any tension arises from the characters' circumstances; the writers didn't shoehorn arguments into the plot. Much of the movie is grounded in what makes life beautiful, like sharing food and conversation with loved ones. I also like how the movie explores forgiveness and trust.

Three adult sisters who live together learn that their estranged father has passed away. He had abandoned his family for a love affair with a woman who became his second wife. His first wife, the sisters' mother, also wound up abandoning them at some point after. The eldest sister, Sachi (Haruka Ayase), stepped into the role of mother for her younger sisters.

When they attend his funeral, they meet their teenaged half-sister, Suzu (Suzu Hirose), for the first time. Their reaction to her is curiosity and kindness, and they invite her to live with them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halibut Point State Park is Amazing

In early September, I went on a vacation for a few days to Boston and to some of the towns within commuting distance, including Rockport on the Cape Ann Peninsula. The highlight in Rockport was walking from the center of town to Halibut Point State Park.

It used to be a granite quarry, and the quarry is full of water now. It's stunning.


Along with walking around the quarry, you can look out over the ocean.


And head down to a beach layered in slabs of rock.


Have a picnic here.


The walk to and from town is also wonderful, with beautiful yards and gardens along the way, and openings to the sea that tease the imagination.


I felt lucky to visit these places.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week in Seven Words #366

A fun evening of Code Names, drinks, and food.

They're helping her learn the distinction between cool weird and uncool weird. Cool weird is when you make silly faces with your friends for Instagram, maybe use a filter or app that gives you puppy ears and big glasses. Uncool weird isn't a sanctioned strangeness. Even if it's creative and doesn't harm anyone, it's suspect.

She folds Trident gum wrappers into birds.

The alarm over the door begins to shriek. A worker approaches it with a grimace, then walks away. A minute later, another worker comes along, grimaces and walks away. Another minute goes by, with another grimace.

The word 'problematic' has started to bug me. People often use it in a way that's lazy and full of insinuation. "That book is problematic." Meaning? A vague unease, a condemnation without a coherent argument.

Hearing about war gives him a thrill. It's the swagger of war he likes, the way deep-voiced media figures growl a threat of reprisal.

An empty plaza framed by ads, shrubs, and an office building that looks like a fort.

Week in Seven Words #365

He tips his hat and wishes me a good afternoon. It's sunny out, and he's serene. It really is a good afternoon.

Fingerprints of sunlight on faded brick and joyful murals.

In the gap between brownstones, there's a fenced off dirt plot, studded with rocks. Two cats inhabit it. One sprawls on a bed of sunlight. The other watches me with menacing alertness.

Kids seize each other in headlocks outside the department store in front of the mannequins and pink placards, as they wait for their mom to finish shopping.

In their community, neighbors, friends, and coworkers will show up with trays of food in the days after childbirth.

She sleeps in a warm crescent against my stomach.

With classes cancelled for the day, the campus is silent. A building with a crenellated tower casts a shadow over the grounds.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Seven Short Stories I Should Have Read with Coffee

It was International Coffee Day recently, and though I don't drink much coffee, maybe it could have helped with the short stories here. These are short stories I liked but wasn't sufficiently alert while reading them. (And I took few notes... not that I always take many notes anyway.) They're also tricky in different ways - they might depend on a slippery narrator or express something frustrating and undefined just out of reach.

Title: The 5:22
Author: George Harrar
Where I Read It: Boston Noir 2

"The simple question 'What if?' could lead to so many disturbing places."
Walter Mason, a researcher at MIT, is solitary and sticks closely to routines. His daily commute doesn't stray from its schedule. Then, on one of his train rides, he notices a woman who's wearing a scarf. When the wind blows it aside, he sees she's missing an ear. In the course of the story, the woman disappears from his commute, and one day the conductor who's always there doesn't show up either. The train also misses his usual stop.

The shake up to his routine is unsettling and creates unease. But it could wind up not affecting his life much. Or maybe it will nudge him towards something better. Moments that appear inconsequential can call for courage and have a profound effect, like taking a chance to talk to someone instead of stare at them.

Week in Seven Words #364

A sunlit, sterile store displays several rows of small devices.

During the subway ride, she asks about each stop and what you could see in the local neighborhood. A proprietary feeling for the city comes over me. It doesn't matter if a subway station is grimy and rundown; I look on it with fondness, because it has become my grimy and rundown station.

The furniture from centuries ago looks doll-like, as if the people then were not only smaller but more delicate and fragile.

A high-speed boat skips like a stone across the river.

The baby wears a striped hat. She squirms from time to time in her sleep. Her sleep seems intent, energetic.

They dab, dance, and toss their hair on the videos they make with a lip-syncing app.

It's a quiet ward, which is surprising. The hospital room has a dim evening glow. For the moment, the baby is being weighed and measured in the nursery. A nurse, who strikes me as sincerely caring, quietly speaks to the mother, both about what to expect in the coming hours and about a maternal health issue that needs to be monitored.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Week in Seven Words #363

As evening closes in, the tower of the High Bridge looks like the home of a mage. A light gleams inside it, eerie and suggestive.

Over sweetened almonds, we talk about embittering life events.

A blank, bright field, and at the far end, two kids throwing a frisbee that they never catch.

Long walks through the city are full of interesting shapes. Some buildings look like a wedge of pie, narrowing where two streets split in an acute angle. Metallic semicircles shine from the side of a substation. Buildings march along the river in cubes and rectangular prisms.

There's a free class on Photoshop, which I'm not familiar with, though I figure it may prove useful at some point. I'm the only one who shows up. The instructor looks as awkward as I feel, but we get past that quickly enough, and twenty minutes later I'm pasting a giant baby onto the surface of the moon.

He crouches by the side of a tennis court and buries his face in the dog's neck. It's the happiest moment of his day so far.

The evergreen sapling looks like a glowing gold feather duster in the forest.