...continued from page 2
It's like watching 60 Minutes. It's a great show – until the first time they do a story on a subject that you actually know something about. Then it becomes obvious that it's a formulaic "reality" show in which the only purpose is to tell you what heroes and crusaders the reporters are, with almost no regard for context.
Or for the lives of the people they attack and embarrass. Once they decide you're the bad guy, you have no chance of getting your side on the air. Michael Moore is just 60 Minutes without a bath.
In other words, they are not even trying to tell you the whole truth. It's pure spin.
This is why, the older I get, the harder it is to find good books. It's not that I know everything. It's that I know something, and most political analysts and historical essayists either know less than I do and don't realize their ignorance, or are deliberately leaving out things they know in order to support their views.
Either way, they have my contempt.
However, if I can help it they won't have either my dollars or my reading time. Life is too short for me to waste time on books that will only increase my ignorance. And, if I search hard enough, I can still find books or articles by honest writers and scrupulous researchers.
You want to know what happens when your scriptwriter daughter marries a film director and then gets pregnant? You get the ultimate Christmas ultrasound video: http://sn.im/christmasfetus
The baby is due in May. We won't find out the sex till January. But we already know the kid can really sing.
Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki is well known for his inventive and heart-warming animated films, like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service.
I've seen all of those and loved them (and I'm pretty sure I've reviewed them here). But I had never seen My Neighbor Totoro.
I might have seen it sooner if I had had the slightest idea that "totoro" is the child-hero's mispronunciation of "tororu," which is Japanese for "troll." I probably would have been more interested in My Neighbor the Troll." Or even My Neighbor the Twoll."
As with most great children's stories, great issues of death and loss are woven in with the magic; the children are caught up in the midst of tragedy, but through a combination of spunk and magic find their way through.
In this case, two young girls move with their father to a new house, which is infested with soot-creatures that quickly move out. Their mother is in the hospital, and of course the children miss her.
The youngest wanders off, following two small trolls, and meets the giant troll Totoro, who carries her away on many adventures. Her older sister also sees the creature, eventually, and the things that happen are quite wonderful.
Yet at the heart of the story is the terror of parents' lives: The child who wanders off and can't be found. There are stories that My Neighbor Totoro is based on a real incident in which a child was lost and died, and her older sister, who went in search of her, also ended up dead.
Certainly that kind of story is flirted with when people who are searching for the missing youngest daughter find one sandal floating in a pond, and spend hours probing for the body.
And some commentators say that the movie really shows that both girls are dead and don't realize it or some such thing.
I think these commentators are living in Paul-is-dead Land. My Neighbor Totoro's story is clear, and the girls are very much alive, and the ending is happy. Yet the fear of death and loss is openly and obviously the foundation of the story, without reading anything "hidden" into it.
Whether Miyazaki was working with the real-life tragedy as the underpinning of his story or not, My Neighbor Totoro is at once a magical story of childlike wonder and the story of how a loving family can be torn apart by the dread of death – of the mother, and then of the child.
It has recently been released in a two-disk set for less than 20 bucks. You could do a lot worse this Christmas vacation than watch this wonderful story with your children.
Even small children. Because they aren't half so scared of death as their parents are. And everything really does come out OK.