Sunday, May 30, 2021

Komatsu and Oyama Remembered

Komatsu in 'Chibideka Mongatrai'

Obviously, I have not written here in some time.

I decided to say nothing here, as I was doubtful my endless rants of the obvious failings of the previous  president were of any use. Thankfully, I learned by the 2020 elections end, that our democracy was preserved by about 8 million voters. Thin margin perhaps but enough to alter the grim path we were on Yet, I also learned that where I live I am politically outnumbered about 4 to 1 - about the same amount I have experienced in the years and years I have lived here ... and yet i remain.

Call me Odd Man Out. And no, I have never been comfortable with this particular reality. So I write what I can seldom say.

And after perusing other options of the online world, those many thousands and thousands of platforms and apps  world gurgles and burbles its way through to self-expression - this humble and loveable blog is the best place to share. Here, I am the only one, I can speak freely.

I can ponder through words the thoughts wandering about my old mind (I'm 60 - time left is ticking past loudly.

I continue to marvel at the presence and uses the world has made of the internet - fascinated by the swipe-left-or-right narrative so many engage in, the willingness to answer any question posed by some Facebook data miner, speeding through miniaturized experience. People of all ages and sexes make money online opening boxes and packages to reveal what's inside, or how to apply make-up, or repair a car or a washing machine, or being creative with music and art, or even just jerking off live on camera for tip money. In my day, one had to go to a big city and find a peep show to do that.


I was eating lunch (eel sushi and thai yellow curry chicken) in a small Asian restaurant and I put my phone away since it had little battery power left. I realized I did not even have a book in my car I could have brought in with me - it made me feel ashamed. 

I work with folks in their 20s and 30s and have noticed whenever there is a pause in work or just conversation, 8 seconds will go past and their heads will bend down to their phones, fingering away swiping up and down and left and right. 

So now I have two books in my car. 

I'm no Luddite.

I was pondering movies I could watch online (how I spend most of my time online) and something reminded me of the first foreign language film I saw. I was 7 or maybe 8, and on Saturday mornings I eagerly waited for the CBS Children's Film Festival program to air. I was quite delighted to be able to type CBS Children's Film Festival into the magic google machine - and there it was listed, along with all the films they showed during their very long run. 

It was a Japanese film made in 1958 called "Skinny and Fatty", or originally "Chibideka Monogatari". It's a very simple story of two young boys in elementary school who become friends. Once I recalled seeing it - images and scenes filled my head. The story follows them through their school days and lives at home. They become friends, the smaller sized boy, Komatsu, lives in a very small one-room house and the heavier boy, Oyama. lives in a large two-story home. Komatsu's mother works in a quarry all day, his father works out of town, seldom home. Oyama's mom stays at home, dad is home every night. The boys get bullied, but don't give in. Komatsu always tells his new friend to never give up, to try to achieve, to have confidence.

All I could find of the 45 minute movie was a horribly washed-out print on YouTube, and watched it anyway. I remembered how much that movie impacted me - it wasn't about adults or the goofy kids in America I saw on TV. Their lives are ordinary and still, powerful. It was one of several young experiences that made me want to write, to tell stories, to make movies and plays. There is almost a manga-quality to the movie, it's steeped in late 50s Japanese culture, and likely helped lay a foundation for an appreciation of their styles of storytelling. 

And that's what I decided to write about today.