“In the womb,” I reply, the word feeling odd on my lips. Where else would I have been produced?
“Womb to tomb, that’s life,” the ancient one says. He stares somewhere over my shoulder, never actually looking at my face. Maybe he isn’t addressing me, but I know he is. “Start dying before we even get the chance to start living.”
I want to get around him. I have to. There is somewhere I need to be. Or somewhere I have to escape from. Though I can’t remember from where to to what purpose.
“Rush, rush, rush. That’s what the programmers teach us. If we slow down, even for a moment, we’ll fail. That’s all the training we get.”
He is laughing now. Hysterically, his whole body vibrating. Others look at us as we pass.
I’m not with him, I try to say, but the words don’t come. Womb is the last word I said, the last word I can say. It pulls my teeth together.
“Rush here, rush there,” the man doesn’t step out of my way as he says, “but don’t let me stop you.”
I can’t get around him.
“Even know what lies that way?” He shoves his thumb over his shoulder, never taking his vacant gaze off the sky. “The tomb. That’s where we’re all headed.”
“Where did you come from?” the man at the table asks me. He sips on a frothy drink that appears to have once been liquid, but is now nothing more than oil-colored bubbles. They cling to his wiry mustache after each sip.
I stand I know not where. To my right are ducks swimming in a river running beneath me. A bridge? Yes, it must be. I know this bridge it is not far from where I live. But the buildings in the distance are shrouded by gray, the kind of sky that sucks away all warmth and familiarity with the world.
“I’m an import,” I say, understanding the answer only as it passes over my own lips. The ducks bob under water, surfacing in glistens and sprays.
“Another one of those,” he says. “Should’ve known from the looks of you.”
Do I look different? My body is out of focus each time I look down at myself. People pass by me, pushing and shoving across the bridge that appears narrower each time I look up from my ponderings of myself.
“How do I look?” I ask.
“Like an import,” he answers, bubbles exploding across his chin. I can hear them, like gunshots, even as I am pulled down, down, down with the throngs. “Should’ve known from the looks of you. Not from around here, that’s for sure.”
The last thing I hear are the ducks, or maybe the bubbles, or maybe the people breathing in and out of my ear until they are in my brain, until they are my breaths, and I am awake.
The first ever Ghibli Exhibition outside of Japan. It isn’t nearly as extensive as the Tim Burton exhibition that I went to last winter, but it still stoked the muse. Imagine room after room of artwork from the creation of every Ghibli movie, even films made before Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata joined forces. Each room was devoted either to a movie or to an era of Ghibli Studio. I couldn’t take pictures inside, but we did get some outside.
“This story will make you believe in God.”
That is the promise given in the author’s notes. It made me believe that literary fiction can be accessible, even exciting, something which I never believed to be possible.
I’ll lay it all bare: I picked this book up years ago, but promptly put it back down after a few chapters. The pacing was too slow, too florid, too pretentious for me. The writer (so I thought at the time) was indulging himself too much in the descriptions. I never expected to pick it up again, to give it another chance. Then I started this challenge. I still had the book on my shelf, despite the fact that I had moved half way around the world, I still held onto the book. It would be the first I read. Then I could see the movie. That’s what I told myself.
It took me only days to finish. Today, I finished the last half in a marathon reading during the afternoon. I couldn’t put it down. It is such a fantastical story. The author is such a genius with his storytelling, that upon finishing I immediately jumped online to discover if this was, in fact, based on a true story. I found an intriguing interview with the author which confirmed that it was only a novel, only as real as every other story. But the fact that I had to search to discover if it was based on a true story goes to show how authentic this book feels. How believable the story is. No matter how unbelievable it becomes at parts.
Yes, the beginning is a tad slow. Yes, the descriptions of animals can go on for pages, but this book is now one of my favorites. In fact, it feels very much like one of my other favorites: The Old Man and the Sea. If Hemingway had been more wordy, less worrisome with keeping everything so tight and concise, if his old man had been a young Indian boy and his marlin a tiger, he could have written this very book. But he didn’t. Yann Martel beat him to it.
I urge you to read this book. President Obama said this about Life of Pi: “It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.” Even if you have already seen the movie. I heard that the ending was changed in the movie to keep it more cheerful. I’m not sure, but if so, it is a pity. The ending reveals so much more depth to the story. Gives it an alternate retelling, a different point of view. As Pi puts it: One story has animals, the other doesn’t. One is more fantastic, the other more believable. One story will make you believe in God.
Otherwise know as Interstella 5555 by Daft Punk.
I have watched this well over thirty times. Lots of people say “I’ve watched that movie like a hundred times”, but this is no hyperbole. I have watched this film more times than I can count. I have listened to the soundtrack, Daft Punk’s Discovery album, more than a hundred times. Well more than a hundred times. When I write, it is normally in silence, but when I do listen to music while writing, this is the first album I turn to. And it never gets old.
The film was produced by Toei Animation by Leiji Matsumoto, whom die-hard geeks will know is responsible for such classics as Space Battleship Yamoto and Galaxy Express 999. The animation style of the latter certainly matches that of Interstella 5555, expecially that of the heroine.
My bluster over this film is just that. Praise without anything to back it up. So watch it. And see that this movie isn’t bluster, but luster.
Strange visions have invaded my sleep as of late. Surreal, yet like a landscape that I have seen before. Only different. Twisted, somehow. The dreams are made all the more real if I consume nightcap of absinthe. This diary will log my wisping memories of the place I see in my unconscious.
He rode the narrow path, having chosen the left-most of the two. I rode to the right of him under the graffitied bridge. Our transport was like that of a bicycle, yet hovering inches above the concrete.
“How far south have you gone?”
“Past the zelkova tree. The one that has seen too many wars.”
“One is too many. One is more than enough.”
It was all uphill to the zelkova tree. But the incline was slight enough that you often wondered why it was that you had to work so hard. Were you not as prepared as you had once thought? Did your legs tire out so fast? Why so much effort just for a tree?
It grows outward more than upward. Its branches, rolled with the fat of the ages, hang down and require metal supports. It is a tree with a walker, a wheelchair, limping beside the river.
“One war is too many,” it would say. “One is enough.”
Stumbled upon a documentary about Ian Rankin, a best-selling crime novelist from the UK. It’s nearly an hour long, but goes quite deep into his methods of writing.
Besides being the title of one of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, it is also the name of another of his creations: a drink. To make, simply “[p]our one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Hemingway explained its origin with a tale worthy of a drink’s creation: “This was arrived at by the author and three officers of the H.M.S. Danae after having spent seven hours overboard trying to get Capt. Bra Saunders’ fishing boat off a bank where she had gone with us in a N.W. gale.”
There you have it. One of my favorite cocktails.