Zen Center Retreat – Day 1, Arrival

The flight from Kalamazoo to Chicago only takes 30 minutes. I’ve never flown in a plane so small. Walking down the aisle to reach my seat is an effort of contortion, but the one long row of seats on my side is comfortable in its elbow-roominess. A 6:00am flight is beautiful in September. The darkness…

Armizare

I am standing in front of a full-length wall of mirrors, six pounds of dull steel in both hands, and I am repeatedly swinging the metal down and to my right. I lead with the blade and follow with my left foot, changing the stance and allowing me to then swing the blade back up…

Running and Failing

If the last thing I posted on here held weight, this would be the greatest, most thought out blog post in the history of online self-aggrandizing. I can assure you that it will not be that. Instead, in true Murakami-mimicry, I’ve decided to write about running. I haven’t been fleeing the authorities or anything, but…

Relevant Writing

I’m going to be changing the way I write in this blog. For the past couple months, I’ve been writing about almost every book, movie, and game that I consume. I’ve enjoyed this, enjoy it still, but I think it’s hurting my efforts to become a better writer. I feel obliged to write about everything,…

Film Talk – Ran, by Akira Kurosawa

Obviously you can’t really talked about Ran, one of Akira Kurosawa’s grandest and most  spectacular films, without talking about King Lear, or Shakespeare himself. Ran is a re-telling of King Lear, with aspects of a couple other well known tragedies from the Great Bard, but with a Tokugawa-era spin that transforms a well-known story into…

Problems in Redwall

I hadn’t planned on writing about Redwall. I don’t meant to be reductive when I say that it’s a kid’s book, and finding depth and writing insight within it wasn’t something I expected. That’s not to say that books written for children always lack depth, but they aren’t known for it. I read Redwall because…

Film Analysis – Ikiru, by Akira Kurosawa

As I watched Ikiru, Akira Kurosawa’s acclaimed 1952 masterpiece, it became apparent how much this film has influenced the entire history of film-making, at least past its release. I recognized methods of storytelling, character arcs, and cinematography that I’ve been seeing in films for my entire life. I even recognized the plot arc of the…

Book Review – Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve read more science fiction in the past year than I have in my entire life, largely thanks to the influence of Neal Stephenson and Ursula LeGuin. I have some large sections of my sci-fi puzzle missing, and Orson Scott Card was a big piece of that. I knew very little about Ender’s Game going…

Eating Vegan – Two Months In

At the beginning of December, I posted a blog about how I was becoming a vegan, in no small part due to the influence of a documentary called Cowspiracy. I’d started down the path of zero animal-product consumption a week or two before that, and it has been nearly two months of eating lots of…

Japanese Curriculum in Review

At the end of November, I designed my self a curriculum for the fall centered around Japanese culture. I’ve been fascinated by the country of Japan for most of my adult life. Where this fascination springs from is a mystery, though it likely began with playing numerous Japanese video games as a young person. That…

Book Review – Sabriel, by Garth Nix

I’ve been interested in this book for a long time because at some point, and I don’t remember when, someone read me a paragraph from Sabriel that was beautiful. Having now read the book, I have no idea which passage that was, but that’s largely due to the book having elegant and pleasing prose throughout…

Film Review – A Letter to Momo, by Hiroyuki Okiura

A Letter to Momo is a touching film designed to evoke emotion in anyone who has loved a parent or lost one (which is most of us). It accomplishes this with humor, good character development, and genuine feeling. It mimics the work of Hayao Miyazaki in an obvious and reverential way. It’s beautifully animated, if traditional,…