Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whisper of the Heart

Yesterday I saw an incredible anime film! Another brilliant masterpiece by Hayao Miyazaki. ^_^ I think this was my favorite Japanese film ever! Yes, even better than Ponyo, Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky. The movie is called Whisper of the Heart. As might be apparent from this cover picture, it's about a couple young people who fall in love. But the story is a lot more involved that that. Hmm... to show you how much I loved the movie, here's as brief a summary as I can make of it:

The girl, Shizuku, likes to read a lot, and soon she discovers by looking at the books' index cards that someone is always checking out the same books as she does. She wonders what kind of person he is, this Seiji Amasawa. Later she meets a friend to share some song lyrics she wrote for their graduation. Her friend thinks the song is good, but Shizuku doesn't believe she's any good. There's a little sub-plot where her friend has a crush on someone, but Shizuku forgets her book and when she comes back for it she sees a boy her age reading it on a bench. When he looks up, she says she forgot her book. He hands it back to her, also saying her name, which he must've read on the index card. Before leaving, he also comments that her song was corny. This puts her in a pretty funky mood, and she calls him a stupid jerk many times in quick succession to herself. ^_^

The next day, she has to take lunch to her dad at the library, and while on the train, she sees a cat traveling by itself. When it gets off at the same stop as she does, Shizuku feels compelled to follow it through a neighborhood she never knew about, all the way to a quaint antique shop. Looking inside, she sees a nice statue of a cat dressed in human clothes. The old man who works there tells her the cat-statue is called the Baron. He shows her a nice grandfather clock that tells a story too, but Shizuku finally realizes that she's been wasting too much time and dashes off to the library, which just happens to be nearby. When she gets there, she recognizes the boy who'd made fun of her song biking over to her, because she forgot the bag of lunch in the shop. Hmm, so he must've been related to the old man somehow. Before he bikes away, he says there's a lot of food in there, and does she eat like a pig? Once again, the boy leaves Shizuku in a foul mood, but she notes that the cat she'd been following was riding on the back of his bike. Mysterious...

Some other time, after a little bit of unimportant teenage drama at school, she goes back to the antique shop, but sees that it's closed. The cat is there, though, and she talks to it and pets it for a minute, until she sees the boy coming. He tells her the cat usually doesn't let people pet him, since he's a vagabond, living in a different house every day. Shizuku says she wanted to see the Baron again, but the store was closed. The boy is nice and lets her in to see it, showing her the way the statue's emerald eyes glint in the sunlight. Later she follows him down to the basement, where he's whittling a violin by hand. She greatly admires his skill, and asks him to play for her. He doesn't think he's any good, but is soon cajoled to play, on the condition, however, that Shizuku must sing along. Automatically, she says she's not a good singer, but when he starts beautifully playing the song she'd written lyrics to, she feels moved to sing.

In the middle of the song, the old man and a couple friends come into the shop and they hear the kids playing music, and for some reason they pick up their own instruments and start playing along. Shizuku and the boy are surprised, but they keep playing along until the end, where everyone chuckles at such an unlikely scene. While talking, one of the men says the boy is named Seiji, who Shizuku immediately recognizes as the name on the index cards, and for some reason she's mad at the boy again, because she never expected that Seiji was anything like him. Later she calms down enough to apologize to him while he's walking her home. Seiji in turn apologizes for calling her song corny, actually complimenting her on how good it was. He talks about his dream of going to Italy to study violin making, but his parents won't let him. Shizuku envies him for knowing what he wants to do in life.

The next day, Seiji comes to see Shizuku while in school, and she's mortified when he asks her, in front of her whole class, if he could have a word with her. A rumor had already gotten around the school that she's been seen with the boy and that they were dating, so she's duly embarrassed. On the roof, Seiji tells her that his parents said he can finally go to Italy to apprentice, but he has to be away for 2 months. Shizuku is happy for him, but sad that he has to leave so soon, since she's started to actually like him. Seiji admits that he'd noticed her long ago, and that he'd taken out the same books as her so that she might notice him. By this point, a whole bunch of kids were spying on their conversation and everyone accidentally falls down. They run away before Shizuku can catch them. (How immature.)

Shizuku soon decides that she's not good enough for Seiji, and must do something to prove herself worthy of his affections while he's away. So what does she choose to do? She writes a fantastical story based on the Baron statue and his lost partner. She asks the old man permission to write about the Baron, and he says she can, on the condition that he is the first person to read her finished product. She eventually agrees and gets right to work, researching for her book and writing day and night. All this writing interferes with her normal life, and her school grades start slipping. Her family worries that she won't be able to get into a good high-school, but let her continue with her mysterious project, since it's only for a couple months.

At long last, she finishes her story, which turns out to be a good-sized novel. (Unbelievable! In just two months?! This reminded me of NaNoWriMo.) The old man reads her story, as promised, and says that it's a wonderful read and congratulates her for all her effort. Despite all her hard work though, Shizuku is positive that he's lying, believing that her writing is terrible and that she'll never be good enough for Seiji. The man reassures her that she did incredibly well for her first time, and though it was a rough work, all she had to do was polish it a little. No one is required to be good at anything when they're just starting out. All she needs is some practice.

After some reconciliation, the old man tells her the real story of the Baron statue, which I'll let you discover for yourself. That night she goes home and sets her priorities straight, deciding to go back to studying hard for high school, rewriting her story only on the side. Quite early the next morning, Shizuku wakes up and incredibly sees Seiji below her window, come home a day earlier than expected and saying she must come down to him. Rushing outside, he takes her on his bike all the way to a steep hill, which he intended to ride up with her, but she gets off the bike and helps push him up instead, not wishing to be a burden to him. When they get to the top, they see a wonderful, perfectly animated sunrise. This was my most favorite scene in the film, because of how very real it seemed! Seiji tells her the good news that he's decided to stick in high school too and pursue his violin making career after he graduates. At the very end of the movie, Seiji goes so far as to hug Shizuku and tell her that he loves her. ^__^ What a finale!
Yes, I know that this post is full of spoilers, but the story was so wonderful that I had to share the whole thing. I loved it so much, because it seemed to parallel a lot of my own life and my own dreams, and because it's a wonderful slice of Japanese culture. What school is like, how the people interact with each other... it's just so different from American culture. Again, I loved, loved, LOVED this film, and even though I gave away the whole thing, I insist that you absolutely must see it, because it's heartwarming and fun and simply an incredible movie-experience.

I've just reserved a bunch of other Miyazaki movies from the library. Can't wait for them to come in!

Funny exercise

Okay, I know it's been more than a week since my last blog post, and I'm sorry. ~,~ Gosh, reading blogs is so much more fun than writing them myself. But this morning I got a forwarded email from my mom, and it was really funny! Everyone reading this has to try this little experiment:
1. While sitting at your desk in front of your computer (How can you be anywhere else if you're reading this?), lift
your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction. Every time. I promise!

Isn't that so freaky?! You can't control it. It just boggles the mind, doesn't it? ^_^

Alright, so that funny little mind-test was just an excuse to get me started on a blog post, so here's a couple other things. Since you guys have told me that my other blog background hasn't been too good for you (you keep seeing black), I decided to change my layout again. What do you think? All pink and grainy crystal? Let's hope that this background holds. If you like it. =P

Wow, can you guys believe that it's only 3 days until Halloween? Amazing. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do for Halloween, but I think it's been decided that Annette and I will be hippie girls, instead of Michael Jackson come back from the dead. ~,~ No, it's okay. I'm fine with it. But my little bro Adam has a TOTALLY awesome costume made out. I'm not going to tell you what it is though. Not until I can get a picture after Halloween. Hee hee. I'm such a tease.

So guess what the day after Halloween, Nov. 1, means? No, not just the beginning of a whole new month. No, not that we'll have completed five sixths of the entire year of 2009, though that is quite an alarming fact, isn't it? 0,O Okay, I'll tell you. It means that NaNoWriMo begins, and I will have to write at least 1,667 words every day if I hope to produce a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month!

I am totally excited by this prospect, because I believe that my basic story idea is a good one. Well, I think it'll keep me writing for 50,000 words and not let me run out of ideas in the middle, anyway. If anyone feels curious about it, comment and I'll be happy to talk about it in my next post. ^_~

Here's one hint though: I asked my friend Jacoby (he's still in Mongolia) if I could use him as a character in the story, and he said I could! Phew! I was so worried he'd say no. ^_^ I mean, I don't know how I'd react to someone asking me if they could use me in a story. But I'm relieved that the reaction was positive in this case. Thanks, J. N.! You're awesome! ^,^ (Of course, you do realize that I'd have written you in my story anyway. I just wanted to know that I had your approval. So, you know. =P)

Hmm, so what else can I talk about? Well, I've seen a couple of cool movies in the theater recently. A week ago I saw Julie and Julia (which is basically a film about cooking, publishing a recipe book, and a girl who discovers blogging! I totally loved it! Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are fantastic!), and yesterday I saw the remake of Fame (sooo much better than the original. Like, a 100 times better!). Both of these movies I highly recommend seeing. ^,^

In other news... The Latiener Gang now has more than a dozen more followers than The Dashner Dude does! Unbelievable! But I knew they would do it in the end, so good work, Latts! ^_~ (Remember to enter in their awesome, awesome mega-contest. Who knows? You might win something! There are literally a TON of literary prizes to be won here!)

Alright, I think that does it. I will try to write a lot more often. 'Bye!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New stuff

Okay, I've been quiet enough this week. I'm sorry that I don't blog a bit more often, but I suppose I like reading blogs better than writing them myself. That goes a little the same with books too, I guess. I like reading them better than writing them. Does that make me want to be a published author any less? No, I don't believe so.

Anyways, one of the things I wanted to write about is that, for those who haven't noticed, I changed my background a while back. I don't want to forget any of my blog's old looks, so here's the comparison. Unfortunately, I'm not sure my new layout is very stable. Every once in a while, I go to my blog and see that the background is all black. Anyone else notice this? If not, just forget I said anything. ^_~

Well, I still like the new look. It's so I can welcome in the new season. I know it isn't very orange or Autumn-y or Halloween related at all. I just picked it for the sole reason that it was pink. =P

Okay. Another thing is that there is now less than 2 weeks to go until NaNoWriMo begins, as you might see from my countdown clock on the right there. I actually joined up for this event on October 4th, I believe, but I couldn't decide when would be the right time to announce this to the blog world. Well, I guess the secret's out now. He he. So now that I've told you guys, I can't back out of this. Yep. I'm going to have to try to write a 50,000 word story in a month. Luckily, I've got somewhat of an idea of what I'm going to write about. I hope I'll have the time to write... Hmm, then again, I'm not going to hope for time. I'm going to make time.
Also, as you might see from the other countdown I have, it's less than 2 months until my friend Jacoby returns from Mongolia. I really, really miss him. ~,~ Well, hopefully he'll post something tomorrow. He tries to blog every Monday. Also, maybe it'll be good I'm starting NaNoWriMo. Maybe the month of November will go all the quicker when I'm writing...

Well, last night Annette and I watched a new Hayao Miyazaki movie on YouTube. ^_^ This guy knows how to direct a good Anime film, I tell ya. We saw Castle in the Sky. This was really great. Just as good as Spirited Away, or Ponyo. The story and the animation was so captivating and sensational, that I actually felt like I was reading a book instead of seeing a movie. The characters were also really well-formed in their personalities. I really hope YouTube doesn't take this movie down. In case it does, you better see it soon. I highly recommend it.

On Friday night, I participated in our new song-repertoire-building tradition and sang the song I'd been memorizing all week: Man in the Mirror, by Michael Jackson (no surprise =P). I'd never really listened to the lyrics before, but it really sends a deep message, I think. Anyway, we record our performances on our dad's Flip camera (hard to believe he's had it since we got it for his birthday back in April!), so my mom thought it would be a good idea for me to dress in costume and look like Michael while I was singing. It took a bit of convincing, but I went with it.

Looking back on the recording we took, I actually did look and sound a lot like M. J. I'm a little of a perfectionist, so I was a bit critical of my performance, but my family loved it. I guess they didn't have any idea how much I'd been rehearsing. You know, now I think it was a really good idea that I dressed up as Michael Jackson, because I think it'll be cool if I went as him on Halloween. I hadn't had any inspiration for a good enough costume until now, so this is great. I can definitely pull it off. Hmm, maybe it would be disrespectful to his memory, I don't know, but who thinks it's a cool idea for me to be Michael come back from the dead? 'Cause I've always wanted to wear a costume that needed make-up scars, but I don't want to be a witch or a vampire, or a zombie.

Lastly, I'll say that my Grandparents are visiting tomorrow. They actually visited on Thursday and Friday too, but I didn't feel like writing about it. It's interesting, seeing them again after they've been in Israel for 3/4 of the year. They'll be around for another week or so, and I think they'll actually come over for dinner next Friday too.

Okay, I think that'll be it for now. This post is quite long enough. 'Bye.

Edit: I almost forgot to mention something else of note. For about the first time since Fall began, I've felt quite a noticeable drop in the temperature. Apparently it's 60 degrees outside. Now, I know it must be a lot colder in other places, but this is Florida. I'm not really that used to the cold. But the coolness is really nice, I think. The breeze is so deliciously refreshing! I can't wait to go the beach today in this weather! I just hope the ocean isn't too cold for me to swim in...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michael Jackson + the Simpsons

Recently I've been going through another obsession phase with Michael Jackson. I think it began with my family starting a new tradition on Friday night, where my brother Adam memorizes a different song and performs it. He's picked a couple Michael Jackson songs, and he's really good at singing them! Last night he sang "Childhood," which is one of my favorites. Even cooler was the fact that our Uncle Danny was there to see him perform. He left back for Israel today.

On a quicky side-note, my sister and I also kind of performed. We memorized all the words to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," inspired by this emailed clip. Surprisingly, it wasn't too hard (considering that we've memorized such Animaniacs list songs as "Yakko's World," "Wakko's States and Capitals," and the "Presidents song" =P).

Anyway, back to Michael Jackson. I've reserved a couple movies and a book of his, and looked at his Wikipedia article, and seen various YouTube videos of clips of his live concerts. One particular thing I was surprised to read about was that Michael Jackson was once a guest star on The Simpsons, in an episode called Stark Raving Dad. Considering that I'm a recently converted fan of the Simpsons, I thought this was super awesome!

I couldn't find the entire episode on YouTube, unfortunately (I don't dare go back to the official Simpsons website, in case it infects the computer again!), but I was fortunate enough to see the 2nd and 4th part of the episode. I think part 4 is the best part anyway. You may not really know what happens before, but it has a LOT of MJ's voice in it, and it's a really sweet episode, so that's cool! All you have to know (for some background info) is that Homer got sent to a mental institution and met a guy who claims he's Michael Jackson. Having never heard of him, Homer dumbly believes it's him. It also happens to be Lisa's 8th birthday. Now please, watch the fun!

Wasn't that so cute? I don't know about you, but I loved Michael's voice-over work! ^_^ My favorite parts are when he hesitantly steps out of the car and people realize it's not the real MJ, and when he and Bart are making up the song for Lisa's birthday. Not to mention when they sing it for her. ^_^ I haven't seen a lot of Simpsons episodes, but I really like those tender family moments. Priceless. And it was funny when the guy changes his voice, and says he only speaks softly like Michael because it makes him less angry and more approachable to people. He he.

Now this is one vid that I particularly loved. I saw it before the Simpsons one, but I thought this should come after. It's a video where he sings "I'll Be There" with his brothers. It's so awesome, because I know and love the version when he's a lot younger, and even as an adult Michael still sings the song great!

Those high notes he sang near the end gave me goosebumps! And then he crouches down and covers his face. I think he got overly emotional and was crying. I almost cried myself. :,( But then he bravely gets back up and manages to finish the song, his audience cheering him on the entire time. Gee, what must have been going through his head at that very moment?...

I'm still very sad about MJ dying. ~,~ No matter how many times I hear his songs, or see his music videos, or am amazed by his incredible dance moves, I feel a pang of guilt and sadness. I wouldn't have a reason to be so rabid a fan if it weren't for Michael's passing. But it's still comforting to know that Michael still lives on in so many forms. In his music, in his pictures and movies, and in the hearts of his fans.

To conclude, here are the lyrics to a Michael Jackson song I recently heard, but never remembered hearing before. It was almost as if Michael was speaking to me with this song, leaving me another reminder that he will always be there. ^_^

Smile, though your heart is aching,
Smile, even though it's breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by,
Smile through your fear and sorrows,
Smile and then maybe tomorrow,
You'll find that life is still worth while, if you just...

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness,
Although a tear, may be ever so near,
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worth while, if you just.... smile. ^_^

I like it because in the very end, he's trying to whistle, but I don't think he whistles very well. It's so funny, because of all the great things he can do, the great Michael Jackson couldn't whistle. =P Ha ha.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Well, thanks a lot, Q, for being nice and saying Happy Birthday to my mom. Even when no one else did. O,o Well, I suppose I shouldn't blame anyone. I didn't really give much of a warning to everyone. Still, if anyone feels like giving my mom a belated happy birthday, you can comment on the last post.

My mom's birthday was actually a blast, btw. She loved the card I'd written her. She was also very surprised at the present Annette and I presented her with, a book full of creative earring-making ideas. She likes making jewelery. We'd bought it in Borders while she was in the park with my brother and the home-schooling group. When she got over the shock of opening the present, she was all smiles and saying, "Oh, you sneaky...". What satisfaction!

Anyway, exciting news in my family! My uncle Danny is flying all the way from Israel to Florida and is gonna stay over for a week! I love my Uncle Danny! He's my dad's brother, and the only uncle I'm actually related to (my mom only had sisters). We haven't seen him in two years, since my family went on a vacation to Israel ourselves. I'm really excited to see him! I hope we have lots of fun with him.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My mom's birthday tomorrow!

Alright, so I haven't been blogging in a while, but I hope my faithful audience is still out there! If you're reading this right now, I really hope you'll be kind enough to leave a nice comment here for my mom, and wish her a happy birthday! I bet it will really surprise her! ^_~